The biggest mistake you’ll make when watching “A Quiet Place” isn’t making a sound — it’s using logic to overanalyze the story. This film is so full of plot holes that it’s best not to think about it too much or the utter implausibility and inconsistencies in the storyline will nearly ruin the experience. If you shut off your brain’s penchant for using logic and reason and just go with it, the film proves to be a mildly thrilling and tense ride.
Validating the fact that a whopper of a budget isn’t necessary to make an impressive emotional thriller, John Krasinski is back for his third foray into the director’s chair. Krasinski is a straightforward filmmaker, with simple, uncomplicated framing and conventional shots. His style (or rather, lack thereof) fits the material well because once you scratch below the surface, this is a routine tale of human survival. The high-concept plot hits all of the predictable sci-fi horror elements, yet the film may prove to be far too indie for the mainstream horror audience that it’s being marketed to.
Menacing alien looking creatures have come to Earth and are hunting anything and everything that makes a sound. A family (Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe) is forced to live their lives in complete silence and must rely on their own survival wits to stay alive. It’s an interesting yet seriously flawed premise, and the film is dependent on the absence of sound (and unfortunately, cheap and annoying jump scares) to build its tension. Instead of the reflection in the mirror type scene, we’re forced to suffer through startling sound effects to deliver the thrills. In a film that relies so heavily on its sound effects, where every crash or scream or growl should be flawless, you’d think the sound design would be impeccable (it’s not).
At least it works as a family drama, but it’s a slightly off-putting classic pro-masculine tale of patriarchy in which the family must rely on daddy and the eldest son to survive. Mom eventually comes into her own but she mostly is stuck cooking and doing laundry in the basement while pleading for her husband to please protect her family.
In an attempt to make the characters more engaging, the film forces viewers to fill in their own back story by presenting random clues (like newspaper clippings) in every scene. Where did these creatures come from? What did these people do in their previous professional lives? How did they figure out what was needed for survival? How could the two adults be so selfish? And why in the heck didn’t they all just hang out underground or at that waterfall? (Again, you can’t over think this because the plot holes come fast and furious).
There are a couple of surprise “twists” and although played for sincerity, they come across as somewhat cornball. Blunt is decent at her foray into being a silent film actress but she’s no Sally Hawkins, and the child actors often take you out of the moment. And can I mention once again the illogical paths this film takes? But for every valid criticism there’s also earned praise. There’s limited dialogue and limited plot but the film still manages to be exciting. There’s a real sense of danger in many of the scenes, including a particularly harrowing bit in a grain silo and another involving red lights and a bloody bathtub.
This is an over-hyped movie that feels like it was built around a conversation between friends. “Hey, I have a great idea for an ending…” Yes, the film’s big finale is a good one, but don’t let that trick you into thinking the rest of the film is better than it actually is. “A Quiet Place” is more sentimental than scary, a gimmicky experiment that eventually overstays its welcome. Horror fans especially will likely leave the theater disappointed.