A Quiet Place (2018) — Terror and grief in absolute silence

“I have always loved you.”

Justin’s rating: Ain’t no kids are going to stay that quiet. Trust me on that one.

Justin’s review: It’s Day 89 of an unspecified, unexplained alien invasion of some kind, and the world is deathly silent. That’s partially because there are so few people left, but also because the planet is teeming with invincible blind alien killing machines that hunt by sound. The only way that anyone can keep on living is to avoid making noise at all cost.

That’s the premise of 2018’s hit horror flick A Quiet Place. Sometimes a good scifi or horror film simply needs to upend the world by changing the rules in an interesting way to examine the relationships in our lives. For this movie, it’s about the ongoing existence the Abbott family, who have miraculously escaped the implied worldwide carnage. Lee (The Office’s John Krasinski) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) care for their children Regan (Millicent Simmonds, who plays a deaf girl) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) on a farm after losing their third kid Beau to an alien attack in the opening scene.

Right away, A Quiet Place arrests your attention through its impressive use of silence. The characters don’t talk — they use sign language for the most part — and the soundtrack is limited to very quiet noises and a minimalist score. The overwhelming silence is genius for two reasons: It really makes you pay attention to the visuals in a way that you don’t normally do in movies, and it sets you up for terrifying moments where accidental noises draw in the alien hunters.

Amid this constantly tense setting is a wounded family still in grief, not to mention preparing to welcome a new baby into the world. There’s a whole lot of sadness, and at times it’s almost too much. While the global situation isn’t explained to our satisfaction (just wait until the sequel?), the viewer can assume that the grieving and coping that the family does is also for humanity at large.

I found this radically changed world fascinating, even if the aliens and the family’s living situation glosses over a lot of logical inconsistencies (nature is, after all, very noisy) and obvious plot holes. Really, this movie’s doing what so many other greats have done, by changing a crucial element to make us look at the world in a whole new way.

At times, A Quiet Place is like watching a silent movie from the days of yore, with more emphasis given on facial expressions, the surrounding landscape, small daily tasks, and treasured islands of good noises (like a baby’s heartbeat or a love song on an iPod). It’s really easy to forget, at certain times, that the monsters are even out there.

I think this is the kind of scary movie that you can show to people who don’t traditionally like scary films or have a bias against some of the brilliant storytelling that horror is capable of doing. It’s not gory nor sadistic. It is, ultimately, a film about love, sacrifice, and healing.

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