A Quiet Place (2018)
If they hear you, they hunt you.
People were raving about this one when it came out. Perhaps the ruckus for Get Out was a bit more pronounced, and I'm sure I'll get to that eventually, but this one was certainly up there as far as spooky flicks went. What a novel concept regardless! Critters that attack by hearing things? It's like a bat monster, and who doesn't like that? Well, let's find out if this movie is as cool as the populace have said, or if perhaps they should hush up and bring our expectations down a few decibels.
This movie is a conundrum of flow. It starts of with the character already in the thick of it, skipping drastic preambles and explanations text dumps. It might be confusing at first to some, but it does explain things before long, even just in how characters act trying to be as quiet as can be. It quickly emphasizes that point by giving us a near immediate kid-death because of loud noises - so as an audience we get the point, noise is bad. It's also nice to see that we continue to be outside of the "Kids are safe" segment of horror, because surely that means anyone of this family is up on the butcher block, and that means enhanced levels of tension. Of course, on the flip side of this, the movie also then proceeds to feel a bit... slow. Things are happening to progress the plot and set things up for later, but it feels like suddenly you hit this big wave of filler after the opening, with a few peak moments intensity and relief.It isn't too bad, and honestly the movie is quite a decent time package - only an hour and a half - so it isn't like it feels like it's wasting your time.
Granted, some of that might just be the propensity for the movie to feel like a character flick instead of a normal horror movie that dwells in tried and true cliches, boobs, and blood. To be certain, they appear in here (minus the boobs) but the movie still plays out far more like a drama than it does a typical horror movie from the ever-growing collection that I've seen. It's in turn by that nature that the movie ends up being kind of impressive - there isn't a lot of talking here, given the pitch. That means a lot of the characters need to be relayed via inaudible interactions and expression - although they do cheat and have some spoken lines as well as using some sign language to talk with each other. This could be seen as a blessing - less chance for really stale line deliveries to botch things up - or as a hindrance - a believable physical conveyance is typically much harder to get. Interestingly, you can find a bit of the blessings coin-flip in here (with some rather blunt and cliched dialogue between the father and son only enhanced by it being some of the few actual spoken lines.
Still, the actors do a good job here. I took sign language during high school, but in all honesty didn't end up using it that much and in turn have forgotten much of it, so I can't even really speak for authenticity - although the tendency for people to say or whisper what they are signing I can recall as authentic enough. I also like the fact that we have a child in the family who is either deaf or hard of hearing - I'm not entirely sure which, given my unfamiliarity with assisted listening devices - but it provides a great reason for the family to even know sign language to begin with before some monsters show up to necessitate it. The kids do a good job, with the elder son doing a pretty great job at looking terrified during most of his scenes and the daughter showing a bit of gusto in most of hers. The parent's don't want to be outshone however, and also bring it to bat where it counts, although if I had to pull someone as a weakest link it would probably be the father - or that one random stranger who looks like a muppet when he scrunches up his face.
Of course, what's a movie with monsters without monsters? Here, I'm slightly unimpressed. The monster design is somewhat unique - the head having all these moving parts that I assume are to help it hear better or form some sort of electromagnetic sensory organ being the real standout .The body is long and spindly, like many a monster meant to evoke the fear of spiders or bugs - and supposedly it's covered in armored hide, given the note scrawled on one screen. The main problem is that the creatures are best left in the background or hidden like creatures of old, because when they start getting out in the open and in light they become quite obvious computer monsters, and it kills some of the mood from the falseness. There also isn't any sort of explanation on offer of the creatures origins or the likes as far as I noticed, but it's also not entirely needed to tell the story of the movie anyways.
Beyond that, most of the effects are tied more towards either a run down town, or the main house set with it's "sound proofing" and array of Christmas lights ready to indicated danger. Heck, there's even a baby scream sound-proof "coffin" to throw a newborn in when it finally pops out. It's neat enough, and they put in other little details like painting the quiet parts of the floors so you know where to step, or leaving a trail of sand all over for some reason - I assume because it's more quiet than just walking barefoot.The blood that appears looks passable, and there's a moment with a nail reminiscent of Home Alone that, although it makes no sense why that nail is sticking up there, looks like it would be incredibly painful.
And of course, folly gets to really shine in this movie. With so little verbal dialogue, anything from the wind to babbling water, even the movement of clothes gets presented to the watcher to help punch things up. At times it's used in an artsy way, where the audience gets queued into music through someone putting in earphones, or we get to hear some electronic feedback that another character is experiencing despite it not necessarily really being a loud noise. Largely though, it also somewhat brings up a bit of inconsistency with the premise itself, much like the idea of a T-Rex that can only see movement - if it only sees through hearing things with no vision at all, how does it manage to really find it's way through a house or forest anyways? It's getting way too nitty gritty for the good of the movie, such a though, but I know there are people out there that don't get frightened or enjoy things quite as much if there isn't some sort of logical flow going on. Perhaps they only hear in a specific noise range that doesn't include such things as the beating of a human heart or raspy breathing, but does in fact tune in to things like a breaking photograph frame or human yell from miles away.
It's a good movie in the end, despite some minor gripes that could be lodged at it. None of those, unless you are a very picky person, are such that it should really ruin the movie for most, and if you prefer your horror more character piece drama/thriller than outright monster horror than a good four fifths of the movie is probably for you. Acting is well enough, the concept is pretty novel, and the effects are obvious but not so bad that I though it was a SyFy original. Check it out if you want a quick movie with a novel concept and not a lot of talking, but perhaps skip it if you want something heavy on action and overloaded with spooks or slashing.