A QUIET PLACE
All very hush hush
Shh. Don’t say a word. Don’t make a sound. We’re reviewing.
released OUT NOW! 2018 | 15 | Blu-ray (4K/standard)/ DVD/ download Director John Krasinski Cast emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward
Watching A Quiet Place in cinemas was a remarkable experience, for this is a film that demanded – and generally earned – attentive silence from the usual array of popcorn rustlers, coughers and amateur commentators. At home, it’s also best watched in rapt silence, so that you can fully appreciate the sound design. It’s masterful, with every breath of wind through the trees, creaking floorboard or thumping heartbeat assuming critical importance. That’s because this indie chiller has a beautifully simple high concept: blind monsters who hunt by sound.
It’s an idea whose implications the screenplay (initially penned by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, then reworked by director/star John Krasinski) thinks through as cleverly as its heroes do. So often in horror movies, the protagonists are lamentably lacking in common sense. So it’s a pleasure to encounter a family who’ve survived, holed up in a farmhouse, for over a year since ferocious aliens arrived on Earth largely by dint of their ingenuity. The Abbots – doctor Evelyn (Emily Blunt), engineer Lee (Krasinski), daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and son Marcus (Noah Jupe) – seem to have thought of everything: laying down paths of sand to muffle their footsteps; stringing up lights to function as an alarm system; preparing fireworks in case a distraction is needed. The fact that Regan is deaf and the family all know how to sign has also given them a winning advantage.
Not only do the Abbots win your admiration, but they demand your empathy. The performances of the whole ensemble are exceptional. With dialogue limited to perhaps two or three minutes’ worth at most (usually uttered in a whisper) the film is hugely reliant on its cast’s ability to communicate without words, and the likes of young Noah Jupe are remarkably expressive. They totally convince as a family unit, and completely sell the moments of high tension – some of which are almost unbearable. In particular, a ticking bomb sequence involving a protruding nail makes you want to scream at the screen (though you respectfully choke it back…).
If the film has a flaw, it’s that the scarcity of dialogue sometimes leads to crude visual exposition. A whiteboard covered with phrases like “BLIND”, “ATTACK SOUND” and “CONFIRMED 3” is shameless enough, but the idea that Lee would still have a selection of newspaper cuttings spread out on a table come day 472 of the crisis prompts guffaws. And on a second viewing unanswered questions about the family’s lifestyle present themselves. Given the impossibility of using a car, how did they end up with a cellar full of radio equipment and a seemingly limitless supply of sand? Given that the grid surely must be down, how do they still have power (solar panels, perhaps)? And when we discover the creatures’ Achilles heel, it seems unlikely no-one would have stumbled across it before.
Moments of tension are almost unbearable
But these are petty quibbles, unlikely to even occur to you on a first viewing. You’ll be too busy rooting for the Abbots and (silently) punching the air at their triumphs. Cleverly constructed, technically accomplished, emotionally affecting, fistclenchingly tense, and – thanks to the film’s front-and-centre placement of sign language and the casting of a deaf actress as a deaf character – laudably progressive, A Quiet Place is the sort of horror film you want to shout about from the rooftops. Just save it until the credits roll.
Extras The Blu-ray formats come with three featurettes. “Creating The Quiet” (15 minutes), your standard Making Of, sees cast and crew discussing aspects such as development, casting, the use of sign language, and the main location – where filming involved, remarkably, putting up a 70-foothigh grain silo! “The Sound Of Darkness” (12 minutes) focuses on the sound editors’ work, with topics covered including the unusual degree to which the crew had to work in silence, the vocalisations of the creatures (much more screechy in the original temp track) and creating “different shades of quiet”. Finally, “A Reason For Silence” (eight minutes) looks at the effects, quizzing ILM’s Scott Farrar and a variety of his fellow monstermakers, and providing glimpses of concept art, 3D models and mocap work on set; we learn that David Attenborough documentaries were a key source of inspiration. If you buy the DVD, the only extra you get is “Creating The Quiet”.
Prehistoric fish and nautilus shells were influences on the monster design. they considered bird shapes too.
Time to admit they were lost on the scarecrow trail.
She remembered she’d forgotten the candles.