All very hush hush

SFX - - Contents - Ian Ber­ri­man

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.

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