Alright, I’ll say it. I know all… five of you are SO curious to know how I feel about this. To that I say… it’s been awhile since I’ve been legitimately excited for a horror movie. If early ratings are any indication, I should be.
The story looks simple enough. A family lives in isolation, hiding from monsters that hunt through sound, communicating only through sign language.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have John Krasinski (DETROIT , MONSTERS VS. ALIENS , JARHEAD , and the upcoming TV show JACK RYAN ), Emily Blunt (SHERLOCK GNOMES , MY LITTLE PONY , THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR , SICARIO , and the upcoming MARY POPPINS RETURNS ), Millicent Simmons (WONDERSTRUCK ), Noah Jupe (WONDER  and the upcoming HOLMES AND WATSON ), and Cade Woodward, making his feature film debut. Congrats, young man.
Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing is Krasinski, known for directing THE HOLLARS (2016) and writing PROMISED LAND (2012). Co-writing the screenplay, making for a red flag total of three writers, we have Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, both known for stuff I’ve never heard of. Composing the score is Marco Beltrami, known for THE SNOWMAN (2017), THE SHALLOWS (2016), and HITMAN: AGENT 47 (2015). The cinematographer is Charlotte Bruus Christensen, known for MOLLY’S GAME (2017), FENCES (2016), and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (2016). Finally, the editor is Christopher Tellefsen, known for ASSASSIN’S CREED (2016), JOY (2015), THE VILLAGE (2004), and the upcoming LIGHT OF MY LIFE (2018).
Overall, I think this is going to be good. I’m curious to know the story of how Krasinski went from a family dramedy two years ago to a horror film and somehow came out doing better in horror. Blunt’s always a quality performer and arguably one of the most versatile actresses working today, able to bounce from comedy, to action, to musicals, to horror pretty seamlessly. And after WONDERSTRUCK, I am happy to see how Simmonds gets to showcase her abilities further. I may question how a trio of writers can come out with such raving early reviews, but I guess I shouldn’t dock before watching. Despite that, I’m sure it’ll overcome.
This is my honest opinion of: A QUIET PLACE
Set in 2020. The world has been ravaged by monsters that are blind and hunt by sound and destroy it. The story follows the Abbott family: Lee, the dad (John Krasinski), Evelyn, the mom (Emily Blunt), eldest deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), elder son Marcus (Noah Jupe), and youngest son Beau (Cade Woodward). After scavenging for supplies, they attempt to return home, but when Beau turns on a loud toy, he is quickly killed by the creatures. Time goes by and Evelyn is pregnant, and the Abbots are doing their very best to survive, adjust, and accept.
This was a really good movie. I may not necessarily agree with “100% on RottenTomatoes” good, but it’s definitely one of the better horror movies you can find.
So let’s get that out of the way. The elements I didn’t like.
Let’s tackle the smaller issues first. Why wasn’t Regan allowed to go down into the basement? There wasn’t anything in the basement that seemed of particular “not for children” quality. She witnessed Beau get slaughtered in front of her and blames herself for it. I’d say she’s mature enough to handle a few newspaper clippings of events that she already knows about. Is it because of the earpiece that’s supposed to help her hear? She already knows about this. We get clear scenes of Lee explaining what he’s trying to do with it. I legitimately don’t think he’s got any good reason to keep the basement an off limits zone.
Why does Regan think Lee hates her now? Okay, I know this sounds like a dumb question. It’s because she thinks he blames her for Beau’s death. Yes, I got that. But… what does he do to make her think that way? She can’t go down into the basement? If I were to hazard a guess, no one but the parents are allowed down there, so he isn’t singling her out. She can’t go with him to the river to catch fish? Um… actually, now that I’m thinking about it, that might as well be the reason. Think about it, does this question ever get answered? Marcus asks him why she can’t come and he doesn’t answer him. Ever. It’s never even addressed again. The point I’m trying to make is that he doesn’t treat her with any measure of bitterness. Sure, he doesn’t say “I love you” much, but that can easily be chocked up to a lack of opportunity. She’s kind of just assuming that’s the way he thinks with backing that I don’t think is strong enough.
Speaking of Regan, she kind of annoys me. On the one hand, I know what the intention was with her character. She blames herself for Beau’s death and thinks that her dad blames her too. Here’s the thing though, I don’t feel like she acts like that. I feel like the way she acts is more akin to a teenager acting out because there’s too many rules, or she can’t do the things that boys do. That she’s spending too much time being her mother’s maid, rather than being an active, contributing member of the family. If the intention was to make her angry at her father for blaming her for Beau’s death, then get rid of Marcus telling his dad that Regan blames herself. If she’s supposed to blame herself, then less acting out angrily and more trying desperately to reconnect with a father that she thinks hates her. Unfortunately, what we got was an inconsistency in her emotions.
What’s with the signal fires? Is this how the Abbott family lets other survivors know that they’re still alive? If that is what those other signal fires are, how come we don’t see them interact with each other? I know this movie wants to keep the theme of isolation for these characters, but by adding those other fires, this begs questions. Aren’t the Abbotts afraid of looters? Do they trade and coordinate salvaging from nearby towns? Have they ever banded together to try and take down the creatures? What is their relationship with their neighboring survivors? From a story-telling standpoint, this seems pretty pointless. The illusion of isolation is kind of ruined by adding this element.
Oh my god, that nail! I can’t freaking stand that nail! This is about the single dumbest thing in the movie. Okay, Blunt’s got a sack full of goodies and that sack gets caught on the stairs. That sack is tearing, and not just because it’s cheap material getting caught on unpolished wood. If the sack was caught on wooden stairs, likely build with NAILS, the first thing I’d do after getting that sack where I need it to go is inspect the stairs for nails that I might have accidentally been pulled up. How is this not going through her mind?! The moment that nail comes up, I know exactly what’s going to happen and it’s painfully obvious when it does.
Other small issues I took, which are closer to nitpicks to be honest, were that the monsters are basically a combination of Resident Evil’s Licker monsters and Stranger Things’ demogorgon, the Licker’s claw-like arms and the demogorgon’s head opening up when roaring. An uninspired design to me. Is it really necessary to show how the creatures listen for sound? I mean, we already know they’re blind, likely can’t smell, and that they attack anything that makes sound. So… why do we need the moments where they open up their heads to listen? I didn’t like that fake-out scare with the raccoons, or when Lee prevents Regan from going downstairs. Dumb and cheap clichés. I don’t think small critters like that make such loud noises. And one would think even if they did, then the creatures would be on top of that noise in a heartbeat. Question… people snore when they sleep. How do they deal with that? Or is this the one family in the world that doesn’t snore?
If anyone else would have stepped on that damned nail, I would have lost my shit and would have probably hated this movie. Okay, maybe not, but still. At first, I wanted to be angry that the nail remained unattended to since Evelyn stepped on it. I know that it’s because there’s been zero opportunity, as she gives birth to the baby, hiding them in their secret underground place, finding the missing kids, dying to save the missing kids, and all that good stuff. But when that nail made a visual comeback, I don’t know if I would have walked right out of the theater, or laughed my ass off if someone else stepped on the thing, which ended up not being the case. What would have calmed me down a lot more is if Evelyn signed to the kids, “Yo! Nail. Watch it.” But… no, they just completely ignore it. Awesome holding a shot on the nail to remind us that it’s there and not do anything with it. Even the monster doesn’t step on it! Just… seriously, nothing?!
Oh, and seriously, what the hell is up with Lee completely ignoring the flowing water into their little underground shelter? That water is making a hell of a lot of noise. How the hell doesn’t he hear that? And more on Regan annoying me, she literally leaves her mother alone to go pout at her brother’s grave? That is the single most aggravating thing she does in the movie.
Now slam on those breaks, you horror lovers. I know what you’re thinking. I hate this movie, right? No. I absolutely do not hate this movie. In fact, I think it’s good. So let’s start rambling about that, eh?
For one thing, this movie has a brilliant set-up. For the most part, the acting is done strictly through the expressions of the actors, or sign language, which is a really cool idea and execution, as Simmonds is actually deaf. I guess it’s a lot better than constantly hearing whispering. That might get grating after awhile. Besides, sign language is awesome.
The performances are outstanding as well. Both Krasinski and Blunt play great parents to these kids, just trying to impart caution and means of survival to their kids in case anything were to happen to them. They’re patient, determined, and even find time for a little joy. One of my favorite scenes is when Lee and Evelyn are in the basement and they start dancing to music on an Ipod and an earbud in each ear. It’s a small, but cute scene that I kind of adored.
Though I don’t like how Regan was written, Simmonds is still an extraordinary young actress with what she’s given. There’s never a point where I think she’s acting. She has such charm and an innocent ferocity. When she’s angry or challenging to her father, you want him to give a good answer. You’re on her side 100 percent. When she’s beating herself up for her brother’s death (rare as this moment is), or left out of spending time with her father, you feel her anger, frustration, and pain. Really, both Simmonds and Jupe are solid young actors, but Simmonds steals the show for me.
I didn’t mind the lack of knowledge on their backstories. They’re done in a very well-done way in that we know who they are simply by watching them do their own things. Lee must have been crazy smart, like a biologist, mechanical engineer, an expert on human anatomy, based on his constant tinkering with the earpiece he’s been trying to make for Regan. And I’m guessing that Evelyn must have been a fertility doctor, judging by how expertly she counts her baby’s heartbeats and writes them down and seems to even know when her baby will be born. We can even determine that the baby comes early, which is a neat detail, making me feel smarter than I really am.
I especially love the attention to details. Little things like dirty fingernails are always welcomed in post-apocalyptic settings like this.
This film has some of the best “action” scenes I’ve ever seen in a horror film. Like when the baby comes early and Evelyn goes into labor, this was about as nail-biting as a movie like this can get. It’s smart, it’s scary, it’s suspenseful in all the best ways. Even when the baby is born, there’s barely any time to breathe a sigh of relief as the baby starts crying and Lee takes her to their little underground safe shelter. Even that doesn’t help much when one of the creatures finds its own way down there and the room is filling up with water. We learn that the damn things swim, but everyone in the audience is waiting for that baby to start making any measure of sound. While I may argue that it’s unrealistic that a loud noise like a creature hissing wouldn’t wake the baby and start crying, the visual of Blunt backing through that mini waterfall was pretty awesome, especially when she starts pumping that shotgun and killing the creatures. Bitch just survived giving birth, survived her own damn baby from killing her, stepped on a nail and kept her cool, bandaged that shit up, and still managed to make mince meat out of a creature’s face. Blunt is on a whole ‘nother level of bad-ass in this movie.
Overall, this is definitely one of the better horror movies on the market right now and is certainly distinct in its execution. While I think there’s way too many flaws to overlook, making the critical reception extremely overrated, the film does adds enough excellent elements to make for a damn solid horror flick. As a recommendation, I say, go in expecting something… good. Not great, but good. If you’re looking for scares, you’ll get it. Good characters may be a hit or miss, but the acting helps drive it forward. I’ve only seen it once, but I’m planning to see it for a second time and maybe even a third if a friend of mine has a free evening, so it’s worth a second viewing. I wouldn’t even mind owning this on Blu-Ray when the time comes. Unique and well-executed enough to rise above its many flaws.
My honest rating for A QUIET PLACE: 4/5
- THE MIRACLE SEASON
- SWEET COUNTRY
- LEAN ON PETE
- THE WORKSHOP / L’ATELIER