Movie Review: “A Quiet Place” Held the Theater Spellbound

By | April 6, 2018

That mysterious film with the largely silent trailer that’s been intriguing audiences for a while now is finally here. And although it won’t be good for a theater’s concession sales (popcorn eaters may get shamed for loud chewing, as I was), audiences will mostly love this unique gem.

What Works: This is as close as a big budget American horror movie will likely ever get to an Iranian film–and audiences may be surprised to find just how throughly the film sticks to its “silence is golden” trailers. All told, there’s no dialogue for about 90% of it, and the character’s sign language subtitles feel like a particularly effective way to trick American audiences into reading. It also reminds me of the old silent films–which could play anywhere in the world because they told their stories with pictures and translated title cards–and have now been replaced with 200 million dollar CGI fests that also rely mostly on visuals.

But “A Quiet Place” goes right where “Transformers” goes wrong, building characters you actually care about in scene after scene. Not to mention absolutely brilliant set pieces like Emily Blunt’s character forced to give birth (or protect her baby in a flooding shelter) while a jarringly hideous monster is trying its damnedest to pick up her sounds. [The creatures are blind, but have excellent hearing, and while most of today’s CGI is generic, the creatures here pop in a way you might not have experienced since “Alien.” Their anatomy is fully thought out and seeing them close up only adds to the terror. Between this and “Annihilation,” it appears Hollywood has finally figured out CGI monsters as good as puppets.]

What Doesn’t: I’m not entirely sure how someone could criticize this movie, but I’ll take two guesses: the abrupt ending, and the first third “is boring.” Neither of these things bothered me at all, but I can almost picture the bored teenagers (and dumber young adults) grousing on their way out. Typical horror movie complaints like “it wasn’t scary,” or “that movie was dumb/gay/lame/stupid/boring” will be said by a certain quotient of the hoi polloi. But for almost everyone else, this thing will deliver something too few films do these days: a memorable, original experience.

What I Would Have Done Differently: Nothing. Writer-Director-Star John Krasinski has made something remarkable: a studio film where the entire audience agrees to be largely silent for 90 minutes, transfixed to the screen. To get over 100 eyeballs totally spellbound and on your movie’s unique wavelength is almost unheard of these days.

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