As you all probably know there’s a lot of hype surrounding Josh Krasinski’s horror film A Quiet Place. So far I’ve heard nothing but praise and stories of audiences being so scared of making noises that no one dares to eat their popcorn! Last night –like an idiot- I bought into the hype and went along to the movies to see what the fuss was about. What I got was bitter, bitter, bitter disappointment –thank goodness I had a free ticket!
Set in a remote wood in a world where the majority of humanity has been wiped out by horrific blind monsters with a heightened sense of hearing, a family struggles to survive. Communicating through sign language they lead a simple life: doing laundry, preparing for the arrival of a new baby, and engineering stronger hearing aids for their daughter. But a spanner is thrown into the works when a series of noises brings the dreaded beasts right to their front door.
Like my movie experiences with The Greatest Showman, Wonder Woman, and La La Land I really wanted to like this movie because everyone else was praising it and I just couldn’t… because it’s not good. In a nutshell A Quiet Place is a novelty horror flick: ooh a horror movie without dialogue. There’s hundreds of these films already around, they’re called silent movies and I don’t mind saying that I would watch Phantom of the Opera or The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari over this movie any day of the week. Hell, I’d even opt for Metropolis over this flick.
The film’s central problem is that it literally has no point. Most horror movies have some deeper, allegorical aspect to them that makes them worth our time and this film had nada. Because of this there was –for me at least- no immersive component of the film, which made me feel disjointed and forced to see everything that is wrong with it. And there was a lot. The story’s lack of stakes is what really brings it down because it dampens the tension and suspense that a film like this thrives on. The only bodily and emotional tensing that I indulged in was when I knew there was a jump scare around the corner. Another problem. Jump scares can be good when they are timed perfectly and work to heighten the fright factor. These ones were just there to make people jump. It’s so annoying when a horror movie relies on this trick because it’s a quick cheat that triggers a reflex response rather than establishing actual fear. If a jump scare is thrown in just for that purpose, I don’t feel scared I feel jibbed and it’s a breach of the unspoken contract between film genre and its audiences. You go to a horror movie to get scared not simply have your nerves startled. If I wanted that I would just stay at home and give myself electric shocks!
Then there are a lot of questions that your mind’s screaming because you’re not immersed in the film. Questions like ‘how can a creature with super sensitive hearing hear a raccoon treading on sand, but not hear a woman breathing through labor even when they’re in the same room?’ Not to mention the question of the amount of electricity this family has without a generator –and I didn’t see any solar panels- or the gaping plot hole that comes to light towards the end. The problem is that we’re expected to hand wave a love of these issues away for some reason, but the film doesn’t establish what that reason is and I just can’t suspend my belief if there isn’t a reason to.
Even with the monsters themselves! We have to assume they’re some sort of underground creature or inter-dimensional being that has surfaced because –despite their resemblance to the Predator and xenomorphs- it would make absolutely no sense if they were aliens.
But to give credit where it’s due the film has a good pace and its timing is more or less on point, the performances were solid and I appreciate that it attempted to establish certain relationships between the characters –not quite hitting the dramatic high notes, but still working well- and there is definitely a fascinating novelty to the plot.