“a flash-in-a-pan lucre-overachiever and clever horror-fare dented by its implausible plot device”.
A runaway success in the North American box office, actor/director John Krasinski’s third feature A QUIET PLACE is a close-knit post-apocalyptical monster horror on the strength of a stimulating prerequisite: what if the tripwire to alert those voracious and blistering predators lurking nearby is not sight but sound?
The story is exclusively hinged upon a cloistered nuclear family: husband, wife (Krasinski and his spouse Blunt) and their two surviving children (a daughter, played by the deaf actressMillicent Simmonds and a younger son, the adorable Noah Jupe), after a prologue illogically shows their youngest offspring is snatched by a blink-and-you'll-miss-it creature due to a childish oversight (what kind of parents would let a tot tailing in the rear under that treacherous circumstance?), then, the narrative fast-forwards to one year later, and to spice up the plot, the wife is visibly gravid and instinctively we can presage that her pending delivery will be a helluva encounter with disaster, but it also prompts us to question the counterfactual decision in the first place, why they want another pregnancy (of course we can empathize that it is a grief-assuaging strategy, which comes off so harebrained in its timing) when the couple both knows a new-born baby will most likely put the entire family in the risk of ruination, not to mention the Sisyphean job of smothering every possible noise made by a baby in his nascent years, or simply lock him up inside a sound-proof basement as long as they can? It also underlines that the parents are too self-centered and reckless to bear in mind of the probable danger inflicted to their other two kids, ascript-smith is terribly needed, for instance, if the pregnancy could take place before the prologue, it would be more plausible.
Enough of this critic's persnickety grouse about its (seemingly unintentional) natalistic infelicity, because in essence, the film is a tautly configured, meticulously calculated genre fare (although that self-evident shush gesture is manifested in excess), and fortunately doesn’t squander its innovative premise, silence has never been wielded in such lengths to induce thrills and spills (the wife’s bathtub ordeal and the sibling's grain silo narrow escape are gratifyingly entrancing), and jump-scares are particularly modulated within an acceptable extent although the nerve-racking prospect of a spiky nail facing upwards is painfully hackneyed. The epiphany, aka, the weakness of those sightless monsters, is teased out in a gradual realization that doesn’t necessarily jump the shark when it transpires, also it astutely adheres to that timeless irony, there is just one thin fine line between one’s strongest suite and one’s Achille’s heel.
The quartet cast is optimum, Blunt is most impressive when she is left alone with menace looming over in propinquity whereasKrasinski proves to be a capable hand both behind and in front of the camera, plus Jupe is such an extraordinarily natural player for his tender age, however, the standout by my lights is the gutsyMillicent Simmonds, who makes great play of her gnawing conflict with guilt, resentment and disconsolation, and ultimately, her evolution into the linchpin which once-and-for-all, turns their misery into an incredible triumph is the most heartening takeaway from this flash-in-a-pan lucre-overachiever.
referential films: John Carpenter’s THE THING (1982, 7.3/10); Ridley Scott’s ALIEN: COVENANT (2017, 6.7/10).