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A Quiet Place

Alien monsters roaming the earth and people adapting to avoid them isn’t a new idea. For the most part the idea is one people have grown up with and so did their parents and their parents. But with no proof and no idea what they look like or what they are capable of, only the imagination is the limit of how they can be interpreted. As such you have the latest story of Alien monster invasion from the imagination of John Krasinski in the best horror film to come out in the last decade, A Quiet Place.

Like any sort of invasion film of zombies or aliens or monsters in this case, the Abbott family has taken to the countryside for refuge from the creatures that are hunting them. Tiptoeing around a deserted grocery store in a deserted town, the family stock up on some essentials. But as they are about to leave the look of shock and horror on each of the family members faces as the youngest, Beau walks up to them with a battery-operated rocket. This is where you realise whatever it is they are hiding from uses sound to hunt them.

Quietly the family walks back to their house along a path made of sand to absorb the sound of their footsteps. Beau starts to play with the toy rocket he was supposed to leave behind. The family each cover their mouths in fear, shock and absolute horror as his father, Lee runs to save him.

The mother, teacher, nurse and wife of Lee, Evelyn becomes pregnant and they start to take steps to ensure a crying baby won’t be heard by the creatures. However, as the middle child Marcus and Lee head out to catch some fish Evelyn’s water breaks and the creatures start to surround the house. It’s here that things start to unravel as they try and hide noise by creating louder noise. But in the chaos, they discover a way to control the creatures.

What makes this story so unique and different from all other alien mutation invasion films, is it’s quiet. There’s so little dialogue that you’re left to actually enjoy the film without having to digest the conversations and meaning. There’s sign language to communicate between them, but the other side of this is the performances. The body language and facial expressions are to absolute perfection, so much so you almost forget that there’s no dialogue.

The Father and Husband, Lee is played by Writer and Director John Krasinski (The Office, Leatherheads, Promised Land). Acting next to your wife in real life (Emily Blunt) probably makes it a lot easier to pretend you love her. But in this case he oozes this powerful fatherly husband protector vibe who would do anything for his family. And while he’s trying to be this protector and provider you can feel his absolute horror and fear deep down.

Lee’s wife, Evelyn played by Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, The Girl On The Train, The Five Year Engagement) offers a performance like no other. Blunt has the role that has to offer the biggest range as she is in most of the scenes. Again, with little dialogue Blunt pulls you in with her every emotion read off of her face. Giving birth, telling her son she loves him and dancing with her husband, there isn’t a scene you aren’t completely living in the moment with her.

But the one person to completely hold this film together is the absolutely amazing performance from Marcus played by Noah Jupe (The Night Manager, Suburbicon, Wonder). Jupe steals every scene he is in even when alongside Blunt and Krasinski. There is a scene where he is talking with his father as they are fishing and brings this wise beyond his years innocence about him that truly pulls you in. And when he is holding the newborn baby hiding from the creatures his face offers so much emotion and fear and calculation of the situation you forget he is just acting.

It’s these performances that make this entire film work. Because without performances that can command your attention without dialogue you have a very weak film. Fill that void with the score and you’ll be either wiping tears from your cheeks or sitting on the edge of your seat. The score comes from Marco Beltrami who also scored the movie Logan. Beltrami has a unique way of letting the music tell the story as well as the story itself. He managed to build an entire other level to make this dystopian alternative future realistic.  There were times where it was so in tune with the performances and cinematography that you didn’t even hear it.

Krasinski not only performed in the film, he also wrote and directed the film. It was clear he had a very distinct mood and image he wanted for this film which he absolutely nailed with all the detail and so much attention. To create something that isn’t that foreign an idea and give it his own take by taking dialogue out of it and building these beautiful relationships between each of the characters is truly spectacular. It also makes it harder to watch because you are so involved. For someone who only has a handful of writing and directing credits under his belt, he is becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Overall this film is without a doubt one of the greatest horror films to come out in the last 10 years, if not longer. It is captivating, interesting and pulls you in from the very opening scene. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll clench the armrest of the chair and you’ll most definitely be frightened. This is how a scary movie is made.

Review by Jay Cook

Criterion 1
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