Movie Review : A Quiet Place (2018)
There's a thin line between an original and a gimmicky movie. The latter abides by the codes of an already popular genre, yet has one twist or quirk that it uses to market itself: a vampire movie... in space or a zombie movie where... the hero is a zombie himself. These are gimmicks. They're unlikely twists on something unoriginal and already popular that are supposed to differentiate the movie like a nametag is supposed to identify you at a corporate convention. A Quiet Place is a gimmicky movie. It's riding the dying wave of dysoptian movies, but adds one twist to it: its characters are forced to live in silence.
And it doesn't have much else than this twist to offer. It's not a good movie.
The year is 2020 and blind predators have taken over the Earth. They are bigger and faster than human beings, have teeth like knives and body armor and supernatural hearing skills, but their blindness allows human beings to survive for as long as they live in silence. The Abbotts have settled on an abandoned farm and are doing their best to survive without making a sound until the day Evelyn (Emily Blunt) becomes pregnant. Bringing a kid into this world is somewhat of a noisy endeavor and, of course, her waters are breaking in advance, while he husband Lee (John Krasinski) and her other kids are out. Hilarity (and jump scares) ensue.
So yeah, A Quiet Place is jump scare city. Writer and director John Krasinski milks that silent gimmick in order to set up as many different kind of jump scares as possible: there are ambient noises jump scares, film score jump scares, monsters jump scares, fake jump scares, you get the gist. It's not really scary, it just games your nervous system in order to make you uncomfortable. A Quiet Place has little to offer in terms of memorable scenes. The only one I could remember twenty-four hours after the viewing is the flooded basement scene, where Emily Blunt had to protect her baby from the monster that slips underwater at some point.
Again not original, but moody and tense.
Another thing that bugged me about A Quiet Place is the quality of the writing. The Abbotts make dumb decision over dumb decision in order to artificially ratchet tension. For example, the youngest son takes a toy rocket ship from the store at the beginning. John Krasinski's character takes it away from him and removes the batteries, claiming it's too loud. Then, instead of pocketing the batteries and ushering his son out, he puts them on the counter nearby and leaves. Gee, I wonder what's going to happen? A Quiet Place is just littered with these convenient mistakes that constantly puts the family in danger. At some point it stops being cute and you start anticipating the next jump scare.
Dystopian movies are wearing thin, whether they feature monsters with heads that look like bloom onions from outer space or not. A Quiet Place doesn't do anything to alleviate my fatigue with end of the world movies, giving me a paint-by-numbers dystopian setting with a jump scare generator of a gimmick to go along. It'll make you tense and uncomfortable for ninety minutes, but you'll struggle remembering any of the good parts at the end of your viewing. A Quiet Place is unoriginal, gimmicky and laughably forceful. I'd avoid spending money on it and wait until it's available for free on Netflix if I were you.