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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place is getting great reviews, as it should--it's a taut, well-constructed, intelligent horror film. But let's not get carried away. Those who consider this some kind of landmark or instant classic may be reacting to the fact that the horror genre has been so poorly served in recent years. For those who love the genre, A Quiet Place should scratch an itch, but it does not transcend the genre.

Directed by John Krasinski, who also stars,  A Quiet Place thankfully spares us reams of exposition. A title card says "Day 59," but we don't know what that means. Presumably it is 59 days from the arrival of creatures with spindly legs and murderous intention. When we see Krasinski's basement, a variety of newspaper headlines fill us in some more--the creatures are blind, but have superior hearing, so the way to avoid being eaten is, to quote Elmer Fudd, "be vewy, vewy quiet."

A prologue shows us what happens when that rule is breached, as the family (wife Emily Blunt, daughter Millicent Simmonds, and son Noah Jupe) lose a family member. They live on a farm, and we have to wonder how Krasinski has built such an elaborate defense system without making a lot of noise. Blunt becomes pregnant, which means the couple made love without making a sound.

The tension exists around Blunt's impending due date--how will she give birth without making a sound, and a nail in her foot is thrown in? How will they deal with a crying baby? Do the creatures have a weakness? (Yes, and it may remind some viewers of the Martians' weakness in Mars Attacks!)

As mentioned, there are lots of questions, but these aren't necessarily plot holes. We know, from the newspapers, this is a world-wide menace, but we don't know if this little family are the last people alive. Krasinski tries to raise someone on his short-wave radio without success. Also, given the set-up the farm has, one has to wonder if the family were survivalists to begin with.

The acting is good. I'm starting to let go Krasinski has Jim Halpert from The Office, and Blunt is effective as showing pain without screaming. The star of the show, though, is Simmonds, who is actually deaf and playing a deaf girl (the reason why the family knows American Sign Language, which comes in handy). She was terrific in Wonderstruck. One can only hope there are enough roles for deaf people to keep her busy.

A Quiet Place is an effective thriller, but it's insubstantial. It was out of my system by the time I got to my car.

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