"A Quiet Place" gets high marks from me for trying something different and pioneering in a landscape of maddening Hollywood sameness and lameness. To attempt a film that is almost bereft of any dialogue and really any significant sound for nearly an hour and a half is a gamble, and such innovative filmmaking deserves to be rewarded with high box office numbers to send a message to Hollywood that, yes, we moviegoers are smart enough and advanced enough to digest something other than the special effects laden, quick cut, cookie-cutter superhero crap they keep shoving down our throats. As a director/co-writer/and co-star, John Krasinski, best known as Jim from NBC's long-running mockumentary sitcom "The Office", shows us he has an entirely different group of skillsets in bringing us a unique tale about a family trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic-type world in which humans are hunted by alien-like creatures who hunt purely based on sound.
The film is a bit slow to start I suspect as audience members try to acclimate themselves to this brave new world of a return to silent films. If you know the story going in, you're likely prepared for the experience. Those who don't know the background of the film might find it takes a bit of time to orient to a world where one of the five basic senses is virtually eliminated. But the film wastes little time in giving horror audiences the disturbing, suspenseful, climactic event to get things rolling and to set the stage for what's to come.
One of the problems I had - and this was obviously done intentionally - is that, other than flashes of newspaper clippings and the like - there really is no explanation as to what these sound-killing creatures are or where they came from. They do seem to have wrought massive death and chaos worldwide, though it is unclear how much of the world's population it has wiped out. Clearly the military has been eliminated as they are not seen mounting any defense in this post-apocalyptic world of barren ghost towns where people are pretty much hunkered down and left to fend for themselves.
But the major problem I had with the movie is a problem I have with all suspense thrillers like this where it fell into the trap of becoming a little cliche in eating up screen time. The device used a little too much and for a little too long was the typical "terrified person trapped in a room with scary creature who is creeping around and hunting them down, terrified person hides behind a wall, then hides behind a piece of furniture, then accidentally makes a noise and is almost found by scary creature, etc. etc." As talented an actress as Emily Blunt is, there was a stretch or two in "A Quiet Place" where there was simply too much of scenes like that. The forward momentum of the story stalls to give audiences those tense, lingering moments to set up the "jump" scare that we all know is coming. At times it just felt like the filmmakers were eating up screentime, and perhaps showing off their nifty CGI sound-hunting creatures.
In the few scenes where there is dialogue and sound, it is jarring, and almost less interesting than the silent moments. The filmmakers do a wonderful job of creating the silent world and come up with some clever devices to allow for dialogue or means by which the characters evade the prospect of noise-making. Making Emily Blunt's character pregnant and imminently due was a nice touch, though it doesn't quite pay off as well as it should. Also an interesting angle - and a clever way to allow the family to already know the much-needed sign language before they are thrust into this bizarre world of "silence is survival" - was the writers making the young daughter completely deaf. The filmmakers use this to their advantage in an effective way when cutting to scenes in which the world is being perceived by the young, deaf daughter -total, complete silence.
As in all films like this, the quest is to find the Achilles heel that can destroy these all-powerful sound-hunting creatures. This is dealt with in a clever, ironic way. Some developments are perhaps a bit predictable, but there are also moments with nice heart. It is the movie with the most scenes in cinema history of people putting their finger to their lips and shushing other people. But you gotta' expect that I guess.
Overall, "A Quiet Place" is a one-of-a-kind experience. An interesting experiment by the filmmakers that delivers in ways where it very easily could have totally failed had it not been in capable hands. Not the best suspense/thriller ever, but it gets points for taking a chance. Its running time of an hour-and-a-half is perfect. Just enough to tell the story, not dragged out. It's a fun movie. I'd give it a B+ for content, an A+ for finally breaking the Hollywood mold and giving us something fresh for the first time in God knows how long.
And, given its success at the box office - $50 million dollar opening weekend taking the number one spot - don't be surprised if there's "A Quiet Place 2". They certainly left it open for that. So, I'm sure it's coming.
You heard it here first. Shhhhh.