Real-life couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt make for a stellar onscreen couple as well.
It’s not easy to make an entire room full of movie fans scream in terror. But John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place did just that Friday, thrilling the SXSW crowd with impeccably crafted scares, surprisingly effective drama, and one hell of a satisfying ending.
By the time the credits rolled, my hands hurt from clenching them so tightly. I let out a long breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. And then I felt compelled to applaud, loudly, at what I’d just seen. Judging by the dazed looks on the faces of the critics around me, I wasn’t the only one. This is that kind of movie.
For the most part, A Quiet Place lives up to its title. Krasinski and Emily Blunt play the parents of a family living out their days in near-silent isolation, lest the slightest noise attract the monsters that have already demolished most of the rest of the human population.
The film’s genius is in the way it weaponizes that absence of sound. The quiet of A Quiet Place has nuances and textures – there’s a difference in the silence a father hears as his family tiptoes around an abandoned store, versus the silence his deaf daughter (Wonderstruck‘s Millicent Simmonds) hears when she’s in the same scenario.
When sound does intrude, it’s horribly jarring. My tension spiked with each crash or yell. When those noises attracted the monsters – which are so brutally efficient that they leave little more than a blood smear behind – that’s when the audience would start to scream.
Even more harmless, mundane noises take on an outsized significance. The roar of a waterfall starts to sound like comfort and liberation, because it’s loud enough that the monsters can’t hear over it. A song played on an iPod feels downright decadent, and almost unbearably loud. Dialogue starts to seem strange to our ears, after so many conversations executed via sign language. (The same applies, unfortunately, to the score, which feels unnecessary at best and overbearing at worst.)
All this tension puts us in the same mindset as the characters: They can never let their guard down, so we can’t either. Krasinski and his brilliant sound team even manage to turn our own bodies against us – I was acutely aware of my own gasps and signs, and frequently found myself covering my mouth so I wouldn’t yelp in shock.
Still, none of this would really matter if we weren’t at least a little invested in these characters’ fates, and here this cast does some of its most elegant work.
A Quiet Place doesn’t spend a whole lot of time dwelling on who these people are (if any of them have names, I don’t know what they are) but the actors capably convey their characters’ personalities in a few deftly sketched strokes. Blunt in particular shines, building an entire emotional arc out of an unguarded smile, a weary frown, a squaring of the shoulders.
In essence, A Quiet Place is a feature-length version of that scene in every horror movie where the protagonist creeps down a dark hallway toward an unknown threat, and we grit our teeth with a mixture of eagerness and dread.
Half the time, the payoff, when it comes, hardly seems worth the fuss. A Quiet Place is the all-too-rare movie where it does. This may not be the deepest or most ambitious horror movie in recent memory – there’s not much here beyond that brilliantly simple core concept. But as a delivery vehicle for sheer, visceral terror, it’s one of the most brutally effective.
Stranger Things Season 3 receives Rave Reviews from Critics
Midsommar Review – 5 Stars!
Florence Pugh is plunged into a terrifying pagan bacchanal in a magnificent folk-horror tale from Hereditary director Ari Aster
“There’s nothing cosy about these midsummer murders, and Midsommar could turn out to be folk-horror for the Fyre festival age. Ari Aster is the film-maker who made his feature debut just last year with the chiller Hereditary, and now presents us with this fantastically sinister and self-aware Euro-bacchanal, clearly inspired by the 1973 classic The Wicker Man. And that is not the only riff. When Hereditary came out, I guessed (correctly, as it turned out) that the director was thinking about Bergman’s Cries and Whispers. I’m now going to bet 20p that before shooting Midsommar, Aster took another look at Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice.
Midsommar is an outrageous black-comic carnival of agony, starring charismatic Florence Pugh in a comely robe and floral headdress. It features funny-tasting pies and chorally assisted ritual sex, with pagan celebrants gazing into the middle distance and warbling as solemnly as the young dudes in the Coca-Cola TV ad about teaching the world to sing. It’s all set in an eerily beautiful sunlit plain, bounded by forests and lakes. This is supposed to be somewhere in northern Sweden, but was filmed in Hungary, and Aster, cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski and production designer Henrik Svensson have collaborated on what are surely digitally assisted images: the sky and fields becoming a bouquet of vivid and beautiful blues and greens. The music from British composer Bobby Krlic (AKA the Haxan Cloak) is sensually creepy………………………”
What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali review – from prodigy to legend
Part one of Antoine Fuqua’s film shows the transformation within a decade from 12-year-old boxing novice Cassius Clay into the heavyweight champion of the world
“I asked my mother when I went to church on Sunday: ‘Why is everything white? What happened to all the black angels?’”
So Muhammad Ali told an interviewer, before giving a knowing look and – boom! – the punchline. “Black angels are in the kitchen preparing milk and honey.”