A Quiet Place (2018)
I have just seen a 2018 film, in the same year it was released! (Is that a first for me?) I actually went to the cinema in Dereham tonight. The local ‘flea-pit’ family cinema was actually showing a film I wanted to see. Hooray! But they relegated it to ‘Cinema Three’ (Tiny, small screen) and one showing per day, at 7:00 pm. (So yes, I am not long back, and it is fresh in my mind.)
I bought my (old person’s discount) ticket, and went into the cinema around fifteen minutes before the film started. I was the only one there, so sat in the middle of the front row. (The screen is not so big) Once the film had almost started, three other men came in, and sat in the back row. In a market town of almost 15,000 inhabitants, the film could only attract four people, on a Tuesday night. That says a lot about Norfolk, and also how the cinema manages to make ends meet. Still, I digress. On to the actual film.
This is a film about sound, in every way imaginable. The basic plot is that aliens have taken over the Earth, and most of the people are dead. But those dinosaur-like aliens are blind, (they have no eyes) so depend on sound, to hunt and kill us earthlings. We are straight into the action,. with no set-up. (I like that, it presumes some intelligence of the audience) We get clues; newspapers, a family hiding from alien terror, and some stuff written on a white board. And we get an early shock too. One that makes us sit up, and think, ‘WOW!’
Move on just over year, and we are following a family surviving where others have not. They have a head start. Their daughter is deaf, so they can all do sign language. This means that they don’t have to speak out loud, and the monsters won’t hear them. They have moved into a farm, and live most of their lives in the cellar, soundproofed from alien ears. (And they are super-dooper alien ears, I kid you not) They manage as best as they can, and for some reason, they still have electricity. (Though they use candles and oil lamps for light, which is not explained) They have to go out to catch fish, and live their entire lives in fear of making any noise.
OK, flippant stuff over. They show this very well. The kids play Monopoly by shaking the dice onto a soft cloth. They use cloth counters, so as not to make a noise. They speak in sign language all the time, which means subtitles, for those of you who don’t like them. They spread soft sand on paths to walk on, and paint spots on floors and stairs, so they can walk without creaking the boards. The ‘small stuff’ is done very well, and makes the film very interesting. But as I said, this is all about sound. Much of the film is muted, or silent, but when the sound comes, it makes you jump out of your seat. The blind aliens make some great unnatural noises, as well as moving fast. Very fast indeed.
The tension is racked up so high, even an old cynic like me felt it. There are genuine ‘wow’ moments, and I could even forgive the rather clunky (and vaguely familiar) alien close-ups. Much has been made in reviews of the fact that the adult stars are a real-life couple.(Emily Blunt, and John Kasinski) This was not an issue for me, either way. Their acting is solid, that’s for sure. But their two older children take the laurels, managing to appear both genuinely terrified, and resolute at the same time.
This is a dystopian/alien invasion film like no other, based on its use of the sense of sound, and lack of sight for the aliens. It’s a great idea, and it works very well indeed. And the ending is a refreshing change too. But I won’t spoil that.