Be vewwy vewwy quiet; they’re hunting you!
Day 89. A family of five moves barefoot through an empty small town, making as little noise as humanly possible while collecting essentials. Society appears to have ground to a halt with walls covered in fading missing persons alerts; old newspapers have printed huge headlines such as “It’s Sound!” describing the danger. Signing with ASL (American Sign Language), the family moves as a unit with Mom (Emily Blunt) and Dad (John Krasinski) navigating their path through dense woods and ever watchful for… what? When their youngest son switches on a noise-making toy, Dad turns and runs back toward his son, hoping against hope to beat the shadowing thing already galloping out of the woods to silence the offending noise…
Very little is given away throughout A Quiet Place, a story that assumes much as viewers are brought along for an apocalyptic survival story that makes zombies sound pleasant in comparison. What are “they?” Where do they come from? Why are they here? The lack of information and the intimate setting showing on family’s struggle against a mysterious invader might be off-putting to some, but the rules are established quickly as well as the consequences. Billed as a wholly original story, are audiences ready for a thriller where a pin drop can get your heroes killed?
Writer/director John Krasinski appears in the film opposite Emily Blunt, a real-life husband and wife playing (wait for it) a on-screen husband and wife. While that seems like a bit of a cheat, plenty of screen time is given to the children (Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe) in also dealing with a world gone wrong, and they act their little tail-feathers off. With a combination of practical and CGI effects and tight story that boils down to a single night of hell, this is the kind of thriller that gets under your skin and stays with you after you leave the theater.
Everything here isn’t rainbows and perfection, however. Any fan of sci-fi, monster thrillers, and cooperative roleplaying in general will pick up quickly on things that appear to take the characters far too long to figure out. While this culminates in one of the longest “a-ha!” moments in recent cinematic history, the climax feels earned if abruptly cut short. Coupled with the fact that the characters aren’t just surviving but actively trying to solve their issue — and of course save the world — you’d think they’d put two and two together a bit more quickly. And shouldn’t there be more bodies around?
As a stand alone film, it’s ninety minutes of edge-of-your-seat thrills with an exemplary cast, but it really shouldn’t go further than this as a one-shot. Any world-expanding sequel will likely undermine everything here and highlight the obvious missteps, so let’s just stick with what we have, shall we?
A Quiet Place is rated PG-13 for terror, some bloody images, and knowing when to leave the batteries out.
Three skull recommendation out of four