A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place ★★★

Added to: 2018 Ranked

A Quiet Place is a b-movie. A very well executed one but a b-movie nonetheless. It focuses more on creating a haunting vision of horror than a deeply unnerving story and it is all the better for that. It’s not to say that the tale of a family’s survival doesn’t hit any deeper emotional grounds but it never manages to fully convince you. The fact that it doesn’t, can basically be blamed on it being a b-movie.

Just do the math. We are presented with a post-apocalyptic world struck by a group of vaguely defined monsters. We quickly learn they hunt everything that makes too much noise and thus the people who try to survive have to live precariously in silence. This set-up alone creates one of the biggest hindrances in A Quiet Place. It is an interesting concept but it is inherently flawed or at least, it gets presented in a flawed way. Actually, it is just near impossible to present this concept in a realistic way. The idea of monsters hunting by sound demands the viewer to know just how susceptible these creatures are for noise. What can they hear and what can’t they? If they go wild for everything that makes a sound the human race would’ve been gone within the blink of an eye. Because of that, the filmmakers implemented a certain degree of ambiguity in the soundscape, which even gets some drawn out into some explanatory scenes that build on the universe rather than becoming completely expository sequences.

For the first half hour or so this works brilliantly. Krasinski manages to explain a lot of the tension and the bonds between family members through his imagery. If anything it is a strong showcase for the young director. It shows his capabilities regarding what is arguably the most important aspect of a filmmaker. Yet still, somewhere along the line, despite Krasinski juggling his toolkit around like a master in the making, there are certain aspects that almost take you out of the experience. It is above all an experience and it stands or falls by how convincingly it is made. On a level of sound-design, musical score or any other technical attributes, it scores very high. The near-mute performances also seem to fare pretty well under Krasinski’s directing yet his own place in all of it feels a bit off. At least, it feels out of place if we’d consider this as a serious, dramatic reinvention of genre tropes. On one hand it is and definitely tries to be, but on the other hand, it acts as if it could never be. Krasinski might have taken himself and his film too serious at times. He presents his character as a father stricken with grief, destined to protect what is left of his family and at the same time we are placed in an environment that isn’t entirely convincing. The universe he created is flawed and thus anything in it can’t come off as completely free of flaws. The ending alone is a clear example of how the whole tone of the film isn’t grounded as well as we’d wish it to be.

It starts out as a brooding atmospheric film built on tension, turns into a creepfest with jump scares in the middle and finishes with something of an action-coda. The hero puts the heroism in his character before his fatherly side and slowly devolves into the kind of caricatural performance that was made famous in the low-budget films of the 50’s and 60’s. The whole environment is interesting but not always convincing, often bordering on disbelief. Yes, A Quiet Place is most certainly a b-movie. It was flawed from the start and it carries those flaws all the way through to the end. Nonetheless, it may very well be that flawed nature that makes it such a joy to watch. It isn’t particularly scary but it is certainly an interesting experiment in reworking the form of the genre. Experiments are bound to be flawed, that’s what makes them experiments and that’s why they are so interesting. Krasinski may not have revitalized the genre like Jordan Peele or Ari Aster have done recently but he did find a new way to look at old ideas and for what it’s worth, that is a good thing.

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