This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Jslk’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Signals to noise. A film with a simple but very effective premise. I think the decision to start the film at the place in the story it did, with just contextual background clues doled out slowly throughout the film was a great one, and respected the audience enough to figure most things out on their own. I also think it was a good choice to not include a kind of "hunter's vision," shown from the monster's perspective that we've seen before in films like the "Predator" films, and "Alien 3," and so on. Budget limitations could've also been the reason why it wasn't utilized, but it feels somewhat passe to use it nowadays, and by focusing on the family members sole reactions, it helps maintain the tense immediacy of the film.
That's the film's greatest strength. It's basic premise, is so tense, that it keeps you constantly engaged and in the moment. There's a lot of films that people mention have to be seen in theaters to get the full experience, like "2001: A Space Odyssey," or "Lawrence of Arabia," or most recently, "Dunkirk." Those films however, are enhanced by the communal theater experience mostly due to the grand visual scale that gets lost when translated into smaller screens. This film was unusual in that the theater experience greatly enhanced the experience in an almost meta way, where it felt like the entire audience was fearful of making noises (the familiar sounds of popcorn crunching and candy wrappers being scrunched), at the same time as the onscreen characters were. It felt like a transferred experience between the screen and audience in a way. It certainly was the quietest audience I've ever seen a film with.
I don't think there's any really deeper thematic or wider societal parallels in the film (and the movie did not need it at all). Yeah, it was a parable about the fears and difficulties of parenthood, but that was very overt and obvious. Emily Blunt's character was also pregnant, and her birth coincided with the fireworks set off to distract the monster's from her noisy, impending childbirth. Fireworks in cinema is interesting, because that's one of the inherently beautiful cinematic things to photograph, along with things like water or smoke, as well as the obvious dream cinematic symbolism it carries, of being a celebration of breaking through something, or of reaching a new or higher place or state of being. I couldn't really see anything connected with that on a much deeper thematic level though, and the pregnancy was simply effective of adding another level of helplessness to the characters to further connect with them, as well as just being a plot device of something that is inherently very noisy.