A Quiet Place (2018)

*. I enjoyed A Quiet Place, but was a bit mystified by the critical response. It is not a particularly inventive or original horror film.
*. It looked and felt to me like several other movies that had come out just a year or two earlier. The conceit of the hunted protagonists having to stay absolutely silent was used in Don’t Breathe. The survivalist family sitting out the apocalypse in a remote home was used in It Comes by Night. And the basic idea of the group bunkered down, again in a remote location, while groups of alien predators who have basically taken over the world roam outside was 10 Cloverfield Lane.
*. Indeed, the set-up here was so similar to 10 Cloverfield Lane that the studio originally intended to present the story as part of the Cloverfield universe. But it was deemed to be strong enough to stand on its own.
*. Added to this is the fact that the premise here isn’t very well developed. I was constantly asking questions. Shouldn’t the aliens, which look a lot like Pumpkinhead, be rather easy to foil? Can’t they just be distracted by sounds and blown away? It’s not like they have any tech of their own. They’re just bugs.
*. Some questions I had were later answered, in ways that made the original question even more puzzling. I figured, for example, that most of the animal life had been slaughtered off. Then we see a pair of raccoons being killed by an alien. How on earth did those raccoons survive so long? What about other forest creatures? I wondered why they hadn’t set the house up with a safe/panic room that was soundproofed that Evelyn could run to when the alien attacked. Then we later see that there is such a room set up in the basement. So why didn’t she go down there? I thought that the aliens had armour that protected them from being shot, but then we see one being blasted by a shotgun. If it was that easy, where was the army? If the monsters are so easily distracted by loud noises, why doesn’t the family make use of this more often? How can the aliens not hear the humans running, or even breathing for that matter?
*. I could go on and on about things like this. Or question who was growing all that corn over a year after contact. Corn doesn’t plant itself. Or where all that water was coming from that flooded the basement. I mean, that was a lot of water. Or why Lee and Evelyn were having a baby. Couldn’t they have picked up some condoms at the pharmacy?

*. I know in every movie like this there are questions that pop up, but A Quiet Place seems to have a lot of them. So many that it starts to become a distraction. Despite being so tight a package, it doesn’t make much sense and I just didn’t think the script was all that well thought out.
*. Even the theme of the family in distress (writer-director-star John Krasinski thought the film primarily “an allegory or metaphor for parenthood”) is simplistic and presented in a fairly mechanical way. There is a tragic incident. This leads to conflict between the father and his daughter. They are reconciled.
*. The thing that impressed people the most was the fact that there were only around thirty lines of dialogue in the whole movie, along with some sign language that runs with subtitles. Originally I think the plan was not to show subtitles, and I think that would have been better. We know what’s being communicated.
*. What I find interesting about this is how much it underlines the fact that in many such action-thrillers the dialogue is almost wholly superfluous anyway. What information does it impart? It reminds me of the time I was on a plane once and the in-flight movie was Armageddon and the person sitting beside me watched the whole thing, rapt, without earphones. This struck me as weird at first, but then I figured that hearing any of the dialogue in that film wouldn’t have made any difference to your enjoyment of it.
*. I guess I’ve sounded rather negative here. But as I began by saying, I thought A Quiet Place was good entertainment. The cast performs well. The second half has a number of decent suspense sequences, though they start to become predictable because they all play out the same way (someone is threatened until a noise is made that distracts the alien).
*. A horror classic it isn’t. It needed to be tightened up considerably. But as a creepy creature feature it’s definitely above average and worth checking out.

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