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Blu-ray Review: A Quiet Place

July 17, 2018

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

Set in a dystopic near-future world that has been ravaged by alien creatures that rely solely on hearing, forcing any of the remaining humans to live in silence lest they make a noise and summon an attack, A Quiet Place is an entertaining if overly gimmicky monster movie that charts one family’s attempt to survive by remaining as quiet as possible.

Lee Abbott (John Krasinski), his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt), and their kids Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) live on an old farm property, walking around in bare feet and communicating through sign language so as not to alert the creatures that lurk in the forests and fields around them.

The other problem is that Evelyn is pregnant and rapidly approaching her due date, which provides a ticking time bomb in the narrative, because there is no way the baby will be able to arrive in this world quietly. The story follows Lee’s attempts to protect his family, as Evelyn navigates the challenges of bringing a new life into this world, and Regan and Marcus find themselves coming of age under extreme circumstances.

Directed by John Krasinski – who acts alongside his real life wife Emily Blunt, marking the first time they’ve appeared onscreen together – A Quiet Place is a competently made survival thriller, that does have some elements to admire about it. The film unfolds with little in the way of traditional dialogue, and it makes some inventive use of sound effects and even total silence to up the tension. Because the character of Regan is deaf, as is the actress who plays her, the film plunges us into complete silence when showing things from her perspective, which is an effective cinematic choice.

The film provides few details as to how many other survivors there are or where these creatures came from – aside from newspaper headlines referencing a meteor – and background information is kept to a minimum. While this purposely vague nature of the plot can be effective in terms of building tension, I actually wish that the film had expanded more on this world. The story feels underdeveloped at times, like a TV pilot or a short film that has been fleshed out to feature length, and the film has a tendency to play more like a series of set-pieces. The film could also be read as a metaphor of the sacrifices you have to make in terms of parenthood, but even on these terms it feels somewhat overly obvious.

While the fact that the characters have to remain quiet is an interesting storytelling device, it still is largely a device, and I wish the premise had been more thought out. My biggest problem with A Quiet Place is that the movie is built so thoroughly around a gimmick, that if you don’t fully embrace this gimmick the whole thing sort of falls apart. This is one of those films that requires us to take so many leaps of logic in order for it to work, that I ended up not really able to go with it at times.

I think the bigger problem is that by the time I finally watched A Quiet Place recently, the film had been wildly overhyped as some sort of artistic exercise in Hitchcockian suspense, which probably contributed to the reasons why I found it to be a bit of a letdown. With that said, this is still a thoroughly entertaining and technically very well made thriller, and there are enough decently crafted set-pieces that do provide momentary tension to make it worth seeing. I just wish it had lived up to more of the hype.

The Blu-ray also includes three featurettes on the production entitled Creating the Quiet – Behind the Scenes of A Quiet Place, The Sound of Darkness – Editing Sound for A Quiet Place, and A Reason for Silence – The Visual Effects of A Quiet Place.

A Quiet Place is a Paramount Home Media Distribution release.  It’s 90 minutes and rated 14A.

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