I’ve always felt that the most underutilized weapon in the horror-filmmaker’s arsenal is the soundtrack. By that I do not mean the startling din that accompanies “jump scares” in too many fright flicks. In the typical horror movie, ample care is devoted to atmospheric visuals and special effects. But the soundtrack is usually relegated to secondary status.
When filmmakers do give sound its due, the results can be chilling: the ticking clock and howling wind in Black Christmas, the pitter-patter of alien footsteps on a ceiling in Signs.
So kudos to director John Krasinski and company for understanding the value of sound – or in this movie, the lack of it – to building suspense.
Krasinski co-stars with real-life wife Emily Blunt as the parents in a family of five struggling to survive an alien invasion. The aliens are blind, but they have super-sensitive hearing. The scattered humans who still exist do so only because they’ve mastered the art of absolute silence. This is no easy feat when there are young kids in the family, and when every snapped twig can mean instant annihilation.
Early on we learn that mom is pregnant. This instills a sense of foreboding because at some point there will be a baby. When every stifled sneeze is a potential death sentence, what will happen when the infant begins to cry?
A Quiet Place gets a high grade because it has several prolonged, agonizingly tense scenes, and that’s a special thing. My grade would be higher but the script is marred by inconsistencies. Sometimes the monsters come at the drop of a pin. Other times a loud bang doesn’t seem to interest them. Also, once a family member discovers an effective alien repellent, why not use it more often? Grade: B+
Director: John Krasinski Cast: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward, Leon Russom Release: 2018
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