A Quiet Place ★★★½

I think that the most special thing about this movie, the sort of thing that doesn’t come out of the writing, or the quality of filmmaking, is the way in that born simply out of the set up, and the most mundane, commonplace of actions the movie manages to find so much of its magic in between the big moments, getting its detail out of the bits that most movies (or anyone with the gift of movement) take completely for granted. In channelling the way that any stray movement you make could result in a sound that could signal your doom, John Krasinski has managed to make a film that at its very heart and soul removed from the tropes of the monster movie and desolate post apocalyptic remnants of civilization can apply to the persecuted of any place and any time.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not an overt message movie in any way shape or form, and that’s what makes it so brilliant. When it comes down to it A Quiet Place is a full-on monster movie, not here the troubled paranoia of last years It Comes At Night or mystery of everything up to the final act of 10 Cloverfield Lane, this movie embraces its genre full on, and never for a second asks you questions, or teases your brain with larger questions. It is a story of a family, of displaced youth, and worried parents, as most of the great genre movies do, it is the way that this movie merges the every day with the out there that makes it work so well.

Yes, there are details it does skirt over that require suspension of disbelief (running still makes a lot of noise, and what’s with the car driving at the end?) But this is not a movie that challenges its audience in any major way, just one that leaves itself open and easy to read deeper in to if you should so choose. It’s a very unsubtle movie that in that specific and most meaningful of ways is incredibly subtle, and that’s a trick only the great ones manage to pull off (think Romero’s first couple of Dead movies).

I said it doesn’t challenge its audience in any major way, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t at all. indeed, this is a film that save for a handful of spoken lines is driven primarily by action, and secondly by subtitles. Lack of dialogue, and having to read are things that can drive audiences away in droves, but John Krasinski has managed to make a movie that is utterly riveting the whole way through firstly probably because at just shy of an hour and a half it doesn’t stretch itself too thin, or try to do too much beyond the simplicity of its set up, and secondly because the people that have made it display an absolutely expert hand at what they’re doing.

You’d never know this was a man who up till now had no experience doing anything but the most run of the mill directorial work, from the pitch perfect editing, the way the slightest movement of the camera can add so much, the vividness of every little trace of sound in a movie so reliant upon it, to pure and simply the storyboarding, every image so perfectly chosen and spliced together so as to never lose comprehension, and inject as much energy and pulsating heart into a movie relying less upon the regular bells and whistles that movies generally do (the birth sequence at the centre of this movie is as good as anything anyone will put together all year).

In front of the camera he gives a hell of a performance too, displaying that sort of tender but tough, honourable, down to earth every man quality that once saw him in the running to become Captain America. Casting his wife to play his wife may have seemed a questionable choice, but when your wife is Emily Blunt, further proving herself queen of genre cinema, who is arguing? She’s the on screen star of this thing, tasked with the job of being in peril and unable to make a sound, the job falling upon her face to do all the work. It’s not a new skill, it’s one actors have been having to master since the dawn of cinema more than a century ago, but unlike silent stars of yesteryear it’s the way Blunt plays it all so low key, less about expressing what she’s feeling than trying to hide what she is, that makes this special.

It really is just a project firing on all cylinders. If you like great acting then it has it, if you like being made to jump out of your seat and being generally scared shitless it does a pretty good job of that too, it’s a glorious work of craft, and operating on multiple levels writing wise with barely a fault to be found. Compare it to Spielberg’s Ready Player One and you find two movies both dealing with the every day woes of humanity in the centre of CGI madness, but this film succeeds where that film failed because it gets the human side so right that the effects work is an afterthought. I don’t want to say that it’s like a modern day version of Night of the Living Dead, but 50 years after that bad boy blended genre and society seamlessly together John Krasinski steps out of the shadow of The Office in a way few others have managed.