16th Aug2018

‘A Quiet Place’ Blu-ray Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward | Written by John Krasinski, Bryan Woods, Scott Beck | Directed by John Krasinski

quiet-place-blu

Imagine a world where making even the tiniest noise could get you torn to pieces by a scary alien monster. That’s the killer premise behind A Quiet Place, an original and utterly terrifying creature feature from actor-director-co-writer John Krasinksi.

The film begins 89 days after an invasion of vicious aliens has decimated the Earth’s population. Aside from possessing razor-sharp teeth, the creatures are equipped with phenomenal hearing abilities (indeed, their armour-plated insides resemble the workings of a giant ear), which they use to hunt their human prey.

The opening scene establishes just how far the film is willing to go to terrify you, as a family – father (Krasinski), mother (Emily Blunt, Krasinski’s real-life wife), deaf teenage daughter (hearing-impaired actress Millicent Simmonds) and two young sons (Noah Jupe and Cade Woodward) – experience a horrific tragedy after one of their number accidentally makes a noise with a toy plane.

The film then rejoins the family a year later and we discover, to our horror, that Blunt’s character is heavily pregnant. Tiny babies being notoriously difficult to keep quiet, we’re immediately on edge, and the film exploits that fear to the maximum as the father desperately tries to sound-proof their isolated farmhouse before his wife gives birth.

The script – co-written by Krasinski, Bryan Woods and Scott Beck – works as a clever metaphor for parenthood, taking the idea that parents will do everything to protect their children to a heightened extreme. You suspect, also, that the script may have been partly inspired by having to look after a screaming baby in the first place and the accompanying wish for “a quiet place”.

Making his third feature, Krasinski displays a gift for direction that far surpasses anything he accomplished in his previous two films, The Hollars and Brief Interviews With Hideous Men. In particular, his command of suspense is exceptional, generating unbearable, heart-in-mouth tension across multiple scenes, most notably in a deliciously Hitchcockian sequence involving an upturned nail on a flight of stairs.

The near-absence of dialogue (the family communicate in sign language, the advance knowledge of which has clearly kept them alive thus far) gives the film a unique quality that sets it apart from standard horror fare, allowing the audience to invest deeply in the silence that protects the characters – indeed, woe betide anyone in the audience who breaks that particular spell. What’s particularly impressive is the way Krasinski uses that relative lack of dialogue to serve both the scary side of the story and the powerfully emotional element, with regard to the family relationships.

Krasinski is terrific as the father, putting his expressive face and eyes to compelling use, especially in his scenes with the children. Fierce and vulnerable in equal measure, Blunt is equally good as his partner and their real-life connection is palpable on screen, which isn’t always the case for movie star couples. Similarly, rising child stars Jupe and Simmonds (who’s also in another film out this week, Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck) create a touching family bond and make you as invested in their survival as their onscreen parents, with one scene in particular guaranteed to provoke audible gasps.

By any measure, this is an impressive achievement – superbly directed, brilliantly acted and breath-takingly original, it is, without question, the scariest film you’ll see all year. Don’t miss it.

**** 4/5

A Quiet Place is on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray now.

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