“A Quiet Place”

Horror films conform to certain genre specific tropes. Dread and foreboding suspense being two. John Krasinski and real wife, Emily Blunt star in his film, “ A Quiet Place”. Based on an original screenplay by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, Krasinski wrote, stared in, and directed. He plays Lee Abbott, a survivalist, who is quietly attempting to keep his family safe from creatures of an alien sort. They are monstrous creatures who attack sound. His 6 year-old  son is gruesomely slain, and his other two children are trying to be brave for their mother, Evelyn, who is pregnant.

Millicent Simmonds, who is herself deaf, plays the also deaf, rebellious teen, Regan. Regan blames herself for her youngest brother’s death. Her ten-year-old brother, Marcus , is actor Noah Jape. Both child actors are just the right mix of scared and brave.

The setting is in a future dystopia, but the farm with its silos and fresh vegetables, and water falls looks like upstate New York. An empty town with leaf strewn streets provide the opening frame inside a ransacked  grocery store.

Lee has spent lots of time using a white sandy substance to soften the sound of barefoot strides on intricate pathways to and from the river and fields. Lights flash red when the creatures are in proximity of the house. Rigged subterranean basements ready Evelyn for childbirth with its cries and screams. For even when a lantern is knocked over, panic sets in and they listen in fear.

The tension is always palpable. One of the best scenes occurs when Marcus falls into the grain silo. Millicent and alien follow. Blunt’s bathtub birth is also chilling. Blunt is easy to watch. Soft, boiled wool mobiles are readied for the new baby. We feel like we are viewing “Little House on the Prarie” , but there  is no calling for dinner. Silence is a way of life with monopoly playing  and holding hands in mute, family-thanksgiving, prayer.

Evelyn is strong and resourceful. She breathes through her lonely contractions like a pro. She is purposeful and does not fret. She, also, does not deserve the film’s ending.

The family’s progress is numbered  in days; for example, we see “Day 473” flash on the screen. A calendar is kept for the perceived date of birth with blood pressure and fetal heart rates written down daily.

Lee works with the ear pieces, both for ear-bud music and for Regan’s hearing aid. Marcus is taught survival skills like trapping fish. Marcus wonders why Regan is not allowed to come. The family is normal in their emotional dynamics, but the build up is slow. They are not the only humans. There are many silos, and one seemingly abandoned farm produces an elderly man, who has just lost his wife to the gut-eating, blind creatures who roam the earth.

I want to really like this movie because the principals are great. It is the creatures that seem absurd. They are derivative and mechanical: the creature from the Black Laguna meshed with the Alien and the Fly. Creatures that go for noises is a cool idea, but as visual evil, these guys seem too, well,  unbelievable. The jump scares seem silly when you see the creatures, and likewise the close-ups. I prefer more psychological horror, rather than  overtly situational. I ,also, hate the ending and still stew about how the children got out of the grain silo. The amplified, high-pitched-sound frequency from Regan’s hearing aid is a creative twist. See it if you have time to spare, or enjoy seeing your PG-13ers scared.