Fall­ing on deaf ears

A silent hor­ror achieves pure ten­sion – un­til they fi­nally find the vol­ume knob.

New Zealand Listener - - BOOKS & CULTURE - by James Robins

A QUIET PLACE di­rected by John Krasin­ski

AQuiet Place car­ries a strict im­per­a­tive: do not talk. Do not make a sound. The in­struc­tion serves two

func­tions. First, as a guide to the film’s ac­tion. The fam­ily at the cen­tre of this hor­ror pic­ture can­not ut­ter a peep be­cause the planet has been dec­i­mated by a swarm of mys­te­ri­ous, fast-mov­ing aliens who can­not see or smell. They hunt by sound alone.

Sec­ond, it’s a com­mand to the au­di­ence. For movie­go­ers, this is com­mon­place

– or at least should be. But in this case, it binds us to the film with a sense of ap­pre­hen­sion, both of the com­ing frights and scares and the star­tling thought that we’re about to ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing truly au­da­cious: a story told without spo­ken lan­guage, score, or ef­fects – left only with diegetic noise and con­stantly bated breath.

Its first scenes art­fully es­tab­lish the height­ened mood and para­noid tone. The fam­ily – com­posed of the film’s wri­ter­di­rec­tor John Krasin­ski, his real-life wife Emily Blunt, and three chil­dren – tip­toe to a nearby town for sup­plies. The ven­ture ends in vi­o­lence, af­ter one of the kids plays with a noisy toy. No di­a­logue, no mu­sic, no screams. Pure ten­sion.

Keep it down: Emily Blunt tries not to alert the aliens.

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