Thursday, 5 April 2018

A Quiet Place

(M) ★★★★★

Director: John Krasinski.

Cast: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe.

Somewhere, out among the corn, M Night Shyamalan was closing in on his prey.

Here it is - the most innovative horror film since The Blair Witch Project.

It's high concept is delivered with minimal fuss and maximum impact, making this the unbeatable frontrunner for scary movie of the year.

Director Krasinski stars alongside real-life wife Blunt as a husband and wife trying to keep their family alive in a post-apocalyptic world. In this sparsely populated place, the big bad is a bunch of blind aliens that hunt by sound - make a noise and you're dead.

It's a deliriously simple set-up, but it's a great one. Better yet, it's expertly delivered by Krasinski and his cast and crew.

The script (by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, and Krasinski) makes the most of its silent world and delivers terror from unlikely sources, such as a kid's toy in the unforgettable opening scene. It manages to create interesting characters despite the lack of spoken dialogue, aided in no small amount by its four stars. Blunt in particular is a stand-out as the stoic mother trying to hold herself and her family together against a world that wants to quite literally tear them apart.

The audio is the key here, and full marks go to Erik Aadahl and his team for the job they've done. With very little audible dialogue in the film, they use every colour in their sonic palette to help paint a tense picture for your ears. Ditto for Marco Beltrami's score, which has to do a lot of heavy lifting and works a treat. It doesn't set the world on fire with originality - it's filled with the usual high-pitch dissonance and low semi-tone growls - but you won't consciously notice it a lot of the time, even when it's the only thing you can hear. Being present and not standing out is one of the best things you could ask for in the situation.

Krasinski doesn't try to do anything too flashy with his direction - he just gets out of the way of his story and cast and lets it all do its thing. His choices are smart choices, such as spending much of his comparatively low budget (US$17m) on his monsters, which is money well spent.

There are some questions you'll have about certain plot elements, including a couple of key things at the end, but these are largely irrelevant or potentially answerable. What really matters is that in the heat of the moment, A Quiet Place is edge-of-your-seat, heart-in-your-mouth kind of stuff.

While it lacks the thematic depth of last year's Get Out, it shares the distinction of being a horror film we will be talking about for years to come.

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