A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place ★★★½

I often get caught in a trap when I review films like A Quiet Place.

Heading out and watching a film after many people have already watched it, and helped it to be critically acclaimed across the board, if I find myself disagreeing with the consensus I usually find myself trying to justify my disagreements rather than focusing on the qualities and downsides to the film.

It continues to interest me how the way I approach films ever since I joined Letterboxd, and how my views of them and how I express myself about them continues to change. This is something I feel as though I want to cut out of my writing though because I think being defensive is far less interesting than being analytical.

Especially because I did enjoy A Quiet Place, just not to the extent that most others seem to have done. Conceptually it is really interesting, and it's also very tense for the most part with some superb performances from John Krasinski, Emily Blunt and especially Millicent Simmonds. It was a good old-fashioned horror romp with too many jump scares for its (and my) own good.

Yet it also had numerous issues which I think, if avoided, could have made this a great horror film rather than just a good one. The Sicario-esque soundtrack was my main problem with this. For a start, too many films are now apeing the late, great Jóhann Jóhannsson's music for my liking. I know imitation is the most sincere form of flattery but enough already.

I wonder how much more effective A Quiet Place would have been if it had truly been quiet. Or as quiet as it has to be for the characters here. It was frustrating to have Marco Beltrami's score blaring out at moments where I really wanted Krasinski to use the effect of silence for our benefit as well. It felt like much less of an experience for it, dulling the effect of the efforts of the characters here to stay silent.

Maybe if Krasinski had more experience as a director he may have been confident enough to have gone without the music. So much of the time I think music in films is used because it's almost felt like it has to be there, because it's there in 99% of other films. This was one occasion where it felt like it was completely superfluous and actually damaging to the overall effect.

I did like the way he didn't play around with the 'rules' here, which is usually a problem with gimmicked films like this. Everything made sense within its own world, plus there was no reason to piddle around explaining what had happened to the world, so he rightly ignores that completely. Yet he does collapse back into the formulaic in a couple of other ways too.

Because, hey. I wonder what could possibly happen with that nail sticking up that we just got a slow, lingering close-up on! That elicited a reflex groan from me, and was easily the worst moment in this. I also feel as though Krasinski believes that the way that these creatures (which look great) can be disarmed is really new and unusual, but it isn't really, and it's heavy-handed with how it goes with the 'isn't it ironic how loud noise hurts them' concept.

I focus on the downsides more than the positives here only because I feel A Quiet Place could have been great. That said, I don't think there's anything wrong with it being a notionally different and largely enjoyable horror flick though. The world would be a better place with more of them.

Steve G liked these reviews