By Andy Chandler
95% silence. Who on earth would want to watch a film where there’s virtually no talking?!?!
Not me, that’s for damn sure. Talking is how we get to learn about characters, their motivations and their goals. To remove dialogue is surely to remove most of the connection we make with characters and the story, surely?
A Quiet Place caught me off-guard, yes I’d heard people talking about it on chatshows and even colleagues discussing it at work. But it got mixed reviews, at best. I wanted to see it, but it was one of those films that I’d be more than happy to wait to hit a streaming service purely because of the amount of silence being talked about.
So it was with a certain sense of trepidation that my girlfriend and I rented it and got ready for whatever this silent film had to throw at us and it was great.
The premise, well: Over three months in 2020, most of Earth’s human and animal populations have been wiped out by sightless creatures of unknown origin. The creatures have hypersensitive hearing, indestructible armored skin and attack anything that makes noise.
The Abbott family – wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt), husband Lee (John Krasinski), congenitally deaf daughter Regan, and sons Marcus and Beau – silently scavenge for supplies in a deserted town. While out in the open, the family communicates solely by Sign Language.
Four-year-old Beau is drawn to a battery-operated space shuttle toy, but Lee takes it away. Regan returns the toy to Beau, who also takes the batteries his father removed. Beau activates the toy when the family is walking home near a bridge. The noise gives away his location to a nearby creature, which kills him before Lee can get to him.
More than a year later, Regan still struggles with guilt over her brother’s death, Evelyn is in the final stages of pregnancy, and Lee is fruitlessly trying to make radio contact with the outside world….
It’s into this scenario that you get plunged and it’s one of the most intimate and tense films I’ve seen from the last 5 years. The threat from the creatures is overwhelming, the silence itself is needed in this film and makes every noise or breath feel like an open invtiation for these characters to be set upon by horrific creatures that look like a cross between Stranger Things’ Demogorgon and the Xenomorph from the Alien series.
Real-life couple, Blunt and Krasinski, bring that chemistry across and it helps earth this crazy idea for a movie in the real world as their chemistry and affection is clear for all to see, especially during the birth scenes which, because of the sound senstive nature of the creatures, must be as silent as possible; even the crying of a newborn is enough to draw these horrendous predators near.
If you’re in the mood for a tense, wince-enducing horror with real threat and characters you give a hoot about, you need to watch A Quiet Place, to describe it as a horror is robbing it of the sense of threat, to describe it as a thriller is underplaying the sheer scariness of the creatures that roam the surface of the world.
Yes, I can understand people being a tad miffed at how it ends but it felt like the natural place to leave this film and the sequel, which there must be, can pick up straight where this film left off. 4/5