'A QUIET PLACE' IS INTOXICATINGLY

Sun.Star Cebu Weekend - - Film - Re­view: Jo­ce­lyn Noveck

Let's start with a pop­corn warn­ing. If you're bring­ing your usual tub of mul­ti­plex pop­corn into "A Quiet Place," just be aware that you'll be hear­ing ev­ery sin­gle crunch. That's be­cause much of John Krasin­ski's in­ge­niously creepy new film, in which he stars along­side his real-life bet­ter half, Emily Blunt, takes place in vir­tual si­lence. This is a movie about a world where noise gets you killed. In fact, if you ate pop­corn IN the movie, you'd quickly be dead. Un­less you were stand­ing by a wa­ter­fall. More on that in a minute.

Krasin­ski, in his third fea­ture out­ing as di­rec­tor, has a lot go­ing for him here: An in­ven­tive premise (was it dreamed up by some venge­ful li­brar­ian?), a ter­rific cast fea­tur­ing two ex­tremely ef­fec­tive child ac­tors, and the al­ways su­perb Blunt, who can regis­ter fear, joy, love and anx­i­ety in one scene with­out need­ing to ut­ter a word. He takes all this and runs with it, pro­duc­ing a taut, goose-pim­ply thriller that earns its jump-out-of-your-seat mo­ments and only oc­ca­sion­ally strains its own logic — and then, who re­ally cares? It's a mon­ster flick!

We be­gin on "Day 89." But what ex­actly hap­pened 89 days ago? Our first clue is that there's no­body in the streets of the des­o­late

town where the Ab­bott fam­ily — Lee, Evelyn and three young kids — makes a pre­car­i­ous shop­ping trip. The fam­ily has ven­tured on foot from their farm­house to search an aban­doned store for badly needed medicine. The next clue is all the "Miss­ing" posters on the streets. What hap­pened to all these folks? The most ob­vi­ous clue is that the fam­ily can­not speak, or make a sound. They com­mu­ni­cate in sign lan­guage, and walk bare­foot on soft sand and dirt so even their feet won't give them away.

An early, shock­ing tragedy makes it clear what they're up against: evil, hun­gry mon­sters who con­sume any­one who catches their at­ten­tion with sound. Soon, that fate­ful Day 89 skips ahead to Day 472. The mon­sters still rule, and now Evelyn (Blunt) is preg­nant. As the fam­ily goes about its sound­less daily rou­tines — cook­ing meals silently, es­chew­ing the washer-dryer for hand wash­ing, play­ing board games with soft pieces, danc­ing to mu­sic on head­phones — one won­ders how they'll pos­si­bly bring a baby into the world with­out mak­ing noise.

Krasin­ski and fel­low screen­writ­ers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck are clev­erly tap­ping into uni­ver­sal parental angst here. First, child­birth, al­ready pretty darned painful and stress­ful, is made even more dif­fi­cult — you can't even scream! And how on Earth can you keep a new­born from cry­ing? More broadly, there's the con­stant fear for Lee and Evelyn that any daily task can lead to an er­rant noise, and quickly, death. What's worse than feel­ing like you can't pro­tect your child? "There's noth­ing to be scared of," Lee (Krasin­ski) tells young son Mar­cus re­as­sur­ingly at one point, as they leave the house. "Of course there is," the boy replies, cor­rectly.

Ba­si­cally the only place where one can talk freely, in this world, is next to the roar­ing wa­ter­fall where Lee takes Mar­cus (an ap­peal­ingly sen­si­tive Noah Jupe) one day. Be­cause the wa­ter­fall is louder than they are, they can holler with aban­don. They've left older sis­ter Re­gan at home to help Mom. De­spite her ob­vi­ous smarts and in­stincts, Re­gan is tech­ni­cally at even greater risk from the evil crea­tures, be­cause she is deaf and can't hear them even if they're right be­hind her. To sur­vive, she will need to be more re­source­ful than any­one else in the fam­ily. (Re­gan is em­bod­ied with warmth and poignancy by young deaf ac­tress Mil­li­cent Sim­monds).

Re­mem­ber we said this movie earned its jump-out-of-your-seat mo­ments? There's one in par­tic­u­lar, in­volv­ing Blunt, that is ap­plause-wor­thy, and you'll know it when you see it. There's also a ter­ri­fy­ing se­quence in a grain silo, rem­i­nis­cent of the movie "Wit­ness," and an er­rant nail stick­ing out of a wooden plank is used quite (ouch) ef­fec­tively.

"A Quiet Place" may not have the weighty so­cial mean­ing or pierc­ing com­edy of an­other re­cent high-pro­file hor­ror thriller, "Get Out." But like that movie it is smart, it moves fast, it has a hugely sat­is­fy­ing end­ing — and it de­serves to at­tract a much broader au­di­ence than the usual hor­ror film devo­tees.

But just watch out for that pop­corn. Crunch too loud, and you're a goner.

Im­ages: Para­mount Pic­tures via AP

From left: Noah Jupe, Mil­li­cent Sim­monds and John Krasin­ski in a scene from "A Quiet Place."

Emily Blunt

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