You’ll have seen the information given on the BBFC certification card before films. It gives you the rating and then there is generally a sentence or two that explains why it has earned its classification using stock phrases such as ‘moderate violence’, ‘brief gory images’, ‘infrequent strong language’, ‘injury detail’ or the one that has to be there but always serves as a bit of a spoiler, ‘scenes of suicide’. A Quiet Place is rated 15 and it just says ‘sustained threat’.
I can tell you now, they are not kidding. It isn’t the scariest film I’ve ever seen but I don’t think I breathed for the whole of the last hour. The movie puts you on the edge of your seat and leaves you there, unable to move, until the end.
The story here is that there are monsters in the world and they have decimated the population. Their one weakness is that they can’t see but if they hear you then they show absolutely no weakness whatsoever. If you make a sound then they are on you and sudden and violent death follows very quickly. Into this set up is dropped a single nuclear family. It isn’t clear why these alien beasts are so viciously hunting humans but it doesn’t matter. This is a film where survival is a constant battle and it is totally believable and remarkably tense.
Writer Bryan Woods and director (and male lead) John Krasinski take this already frightening idea and run with it in ways that realise it’s absolute potential. Early on you appreciate quite how many of the things we take for granted in our lives make noise and then they drop the one thing into this situation that makes it as bad as it can possibly be. I won’t tell you what this element is because I want you to gasp and slowly put your hand over your mouth as you too realise quite what a nightmare scenario you are watching, just like I did. There is a moment with Emily Blunt’s wife and mother Evelyn hiding in the bath that features in the trailer and on the poster but these glimpses of the scene give no idea of quite how powerful it is when it plays out in context. It is just one of the many parts of the film that surprises and enthral with how the narrative is managed.
This isn’t Krasinski’s first time calling the shots but his two previous movies showed none of the mastery demonstrated here. It is a very impressive piece of work for a fledgling director and I am sure he’ll soon be known for more than his performance as Martin Freeman in the American Office.
I found A Quiet Place exhilarating and when it finished I was left sitting in the cinema, still on the edge of my seat, willing there to be an end credits sequence. There isn’t one.
The Ripley Factor
Emily Blunt has such a string of strong female roles on her CV now, Looper, Sicario, Edge of Tomorrow, that is is clear that this is something that is important to her in all of her collaborations. It is no surprise then that being directed by her husband the same is the case here.