Last week I was able to get my booty 🍑 to the Regal Cinema™ to see A Quiet Place directed by John Krasinski and boy oh boy do I have thoughts and opinions :o
Picture this: my roommate and I arrive at the theater, primed and ready to see the 8:50 pm showing, only to find ourselves at the end of a long line of pre-adolescents eager to see the latest in horror films. By the time we get to the box office, we are informed that all the good seats for the 8:50 are sold out... FML.
So we go with the only viable option, and jam out to "Bohemian Rhapsody" in my roomie's Jeep™ until the 9:50 showing starts 👍
Heart racing, adrenaline pumping, the lights dim in the theater and the previews begin. At this point, I don't really know what to expect. Like, I knew it was about being quiet (duh) but I had no semblance of an idea as to the plot.
The movie starts.
A figure scurries across the screen. I immediately jump because I can't handle myself.
Right off the bat we are introduced to Regan Lee, played by Millicent Simmonds, who has a cochlear implant signifying to the audience that she is deaf. Krasinski was adimate about casting Simmonds as not only is the teenager a brilliant actress, but she is also deaf in real life. I could go on for 10 years about how much representation matters in films, but let's be real you came here for HARD HITTING REVIEWS.
In the film the protagonists must remain incredibly quiet, lest they be killed by blind creatures who hunt with their sense of hearing. Once it is established that our loveable protagonists aren't able to make sound, a hush befalls the theater. All are silent, except for one douche in the front who can't read a room and is still noshing LOUDLY on their popcorn 😒
In that moment of near silence, every single person was instantaneously enwrapped in the story, and I have never personally identified with a protagonist, let alone five, so quickly than in the first five minutes of this film. Amazing.
As the film progressed I was thrilled with Krasinski's directorial style; the fluid movements of the camera coupled with out-of-the-box perspectives made for a smooth invisible narration that told the story beautifully. The seamless and intuitive style Krasinski brings to this film is especially impressive considering this is his first large directing gig. A far cry from directing a few episodes of The Office. Overall the cinematography was quite beautiful (to be expected with a $17 mil budget), the acting was phenomenal (and I mean really fucking good), and the motif of sound lit my fire, let me POP OFF.
We all know how important sound is to a film. In horror it is used to slowly bring your anxiety level up, until it bubbles over inside of you; it sends a jolt of fear through your body resulting in a physical reaction; or, it can signal a brief ceasefire on your instinctual flight or fight response. By magnifying the element of sound and making it not only a central theme, but an active character in the film, A Quiet Place has effectively set itself worlds apart from other horror cliches in that respect. That being said, the first half of the movie, quiet as it is, did have a subtle score underlining many parts, and it would have been a more cathartic experience for me to see the characters interact with just the nuanced sounds of the natural world that they live in. But what can you do ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Before I get too critical, let me just say that I am in no way shitting on the quality of this movie. I am a sucker for a good horror flick and this film deserves many accolades for its unique storytelling. But I have some pretty major gripes, most notably with the narrative.
The only other female character besides Regan (the daughter) is Evelyn Abbott, played brilliantly by Emily Blunt. Because she's the matriarch, one would expect her to be actively helping Lee try to find a weakness in the creatures, or going out on supply runs, or teaching the children self-defense but instead
she GETS PREGNANT... smh.
While her pregnancy is an interesting obstacle to overcome for the family, it is a tired answer (and a cop-out) to the question: "what should this female character do?" I just don't understand why a family that is so careful in everything else they do would allow a risk like this to happen, and the only explanation we get is the implication that they are replacing the son they lost in the first part of the film. For the love of God™ find some healthier coping mechanisms.
Beyond being pregnant, Evelyn is shown in traditional female roles, doing things like the laundry, maintaining the home, having a fucking baby, and teaching their son math. A note on that: why the FUCK does their son have to learn math? Is he gunna stop the violent alien creatures from ripping him limb from limb by reciting the quadratic formula at them? HELL NO.
Anyway, I would normally rant about how frustrating it is to see a female character reduced to stereotypical "womanly" behavior but the roles are subverted entirely in the final scene, as the son is holding the baby while Regan and Evelyn give each other a knowing look that says "let's blow these mofos back into space." Nice.
Speaking of the mofo alien creatures, why do they look so much like demogorgons from Netflix's Stranger Things? Just a thought.
I did, however, thoroughly enjoy the detail we are shown of their complex hearing mechanisms. I almost felt like I was taking alien ear anatomy 101 and that was cool as hell.
Lastly, the pace of the movie felt like a slow jog, appropriate for the quality of the story, however it developed into a pretty monotonous cycle that was predictable, and almost boring. This could have been avoided if they brought other outsiders into the world of the family. For example, the part where the old man sacrifices himself was one of the most cathartic, and yes, scary moments out of the entire film. In that moment that Lee is protecting his son from what he would have seen, we see and feel Lee's need to keep his family safe.
The narrative Issues lie in the fact that this movie was supposed to be marketed as a horror flick and a family drama, which is amiable, but tbh pick a lane because when you put your ball in too many courts you end up half-assing two things instead of whole-assing one thing (arguably better).
Okay, now that I've effectively vented all (most) of my feelings about this film, I can cancel my upcoming therapy appointment (and also summarize my thinking). This was an excellent film, with a fresh take on the horror genre and a compelling situation that has you rooting for the characters from the very beginning. The story was a bit formulaic and could have been improved with more out-of-the box thinking in terms of actions, plot, and character development. Krasinski deserves praise for his performance, and a heartfelt sigh for the slight nod to his Jim Halpert days in the dancing scene with Blunt.
All in all, get your ass into the theater and watch this movie so that you too can rant about it online. I love you all.