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Thursday, April 5, 2018 12:04 am

Quiet Place’s lack of logic is its undoing

 

John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place has been impressing audiences at the festivals it has shown at, and now it has the burden of living up to the resulting hype. As with most situations of this sort, the truth often lies somewhere in the middle, and while the film certainly has its moments, it’s surely not the innovative, instant classic that so many are proclaiming.

I have no hard facts or figures to back this up, but I’m pretty sure the science fiction setting of a dystrophic future beset by an alien threat or plague is now as overused as Westerns were in the 1950s. The action here picks up in such a place, some 89 days after an invasion by a particularly nasty race of creatures that, while blind, have incredibly acute hearing. One loud noise and you’re toast, as these things are as big as a good-sized deer, fast as a jaguar and very, very hungry. We see one in action during one of the film’s best sequences, a prologue that finds the youngest of the Abbott clan taken down before the eyes of his family due to a toy with an ill-timed siren.

The survivors – parents Lee and Evelyn (Krasinski and his real-life wife Emily Blunt) and children Regan, who happens to be deaf (Millicent Simmonds), and Marcus (Noah Jupe) – are all wracked with guilt over the incident and do their best to stay quiet and out of sight. They do a fine job, but after a year passes, a new set of difficulties arise as Evelyn is about to give birth and Lee must prepare for all of the noise-related issues a newborn will bring.

Kransinski does a fine job keeping things moving as the movie, clocking in at 90 minutes, progresses at a sure pace, effectively mixing quiet, reflective moments with those of tension and terror. His camera placement is used to great effect, suggesting the creatures before exposing them, aided greatly by Charlotte Christensen’s moody cinematography. The resulting alien attacks are also rendered to fine effect as the director builds these moments nicely to milk just as much tension out of them as possible.

Equally important and no less impressive is the film’s sound mix and design. Michael Barosky accentuates the least of noises to underscore the omnipresent threat the monsters pose while any louder disturbance is cranked to 11 in order to jolt viewers right out of their seats. It’s a glorified method out of William Castle’s bag of tricks, but the heightened sounds beautifully complement the movie’s horrific sights.

While all of the technical aspects of Place are well-done and the acting of the small cast is top-notch, the script by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck and Krasinski contains too many holes and questionable conveniences that all become too much, even within the liberal standards of the horror genre. One catastrophe trips on the heels of another so quickly during the third act that I thought I was watching an old-time serial in which the characters were purposely being put through one trial after another just for thrill’s sake. Take into account one too many decisions that have you questioning the intelligence of all concerned and the film finally stretches its logic to the breaking point.

Without question, Krasinski proves that he can create an eerie atmosphere and ratchet up the tension when need be. However, he needs a script with fewer holes in order to deliver a completely successful movie.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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