FILM REVIEW – A QUIET PLACE. With Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds. Written by Bryan Woods & Scott Beck and John Krasinski. Directed by John Krasinski. Rated PG-13 for terror and some bloody images. 90 minutes.
A QUIET PLACE is a seriously-made horror film with a strong cast and smart direction. Why doesn’t it work? It should have been obvious before the cameras started rolling. It has a clever premise that the three writers (including director/actor John Krasinski) didn’t fully consider. As a result, one must stop thinking while watching or else it all falls apart.
It starts off promisingly on “Day 89.” We’re three months into a worldwide crisis that is never explained. We see the Abbott family rummaging through a drug store in an abandoned town, trying not to make a sound. As we learn, creatures of unknown origin are rampaging across the planet, and are attracted by sound. If they hear you, they will attack.
We then jump ahead a year or so later, and we see the Abbotts in their stronghold on their farm. Evelyn (Emily Blunt) is pregnant. Her husband Lee is trying to find other survivors while protecting his own. Their daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) is deaf, but Lee is trying to devise a hearing aid for her. Their young son Marcus (Noah Jupe) isn’t sure he’s old enough to start learning survival skills.
Now as the family dynamics proceed with the ever-present fear of the creatures, a number of questions arise. Evelyn is pregnant? Did they think babies could be ordered to be quiet on command? When they were raiding the drug store did they not think to pick up some condoms? Since they’re being so careful not to make a sound that they spread sand everywhere they walk, how could they do this?
Then there’s the question of what the world did prior to the start of the film. Once they figured out the creatures were attracted by sounds, why not set off sirens or loudspeakers, and then pick off the monsters once they arrive? We see the characters using sound to distract the creatures, why didn’t they use it to go on the offensive?
Which leads to the big reveal – not given away here – of what might be effective against them. With scientists, governments and the militaries all over the world realizing the fate of humankind was at stake, did no one think of this? Perhaps providing a little more backstory would have been helpful.
Recent attempts at what might be called “smart horror,” like “Get Out” and “Colossal,” didn’t offer up documentary reality but they did have an internal logic for the world the films created. “A Quiet Place” fails this basic test. What it does have is solid performances by its four principals, particularly Simmonds as their daughter, and some suspenseful set pieces such as Evelyn going into labor while trying not to make noise.
“A Quiet Place” is more of an interesting failure than a total disaster. It’s worth a look if you like the genre. Just try not to think too much while you’re watching.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His latest novel is Time on My Hands: My Misadventures in Time Travel. He is the 2018 recipient of the Skylark Award given by the New England Science Fiction Association. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.