A Quiet Place
A location of silence, where the slightest sound prompts monsters to leap out at you – and that's just the PhD room where I'm studying (that one's for all you PhDers out there). But seriously, the premise of this suspenseful, affectionate, horror film is one many readers will already be familiar with by now. Directed by and starring the likeable John Krasinsky, with his wife Emily Blunt as the other half of a beleaguered but loving post-apocalyptic couple, A Quiet Place is that rare thing, a film too good to belong to just one genre. With a particularly strong turn from their deaf and mute daughter, played by Millicent Simmonds, we get an intimate, endearing depiction of a nice family being resilient, doing everything to ensure normality while ever vigilant of the horrors stalking all around them. Their ability to communicate via sign language and eye contact, arguably familiar due to the 'disability' of their daughter, is evidently what's kept them alive so far. Like The Shape of Water, we have a film that takes disability and turns it into something to embrace and engage with.
The characters, then, are this film's foundation. Each one has an arc that melds with plot, contributing to the kind of coherence that could only come about as one person's vision: in this case John Krasinski, whose concept it is. Of the plot, I don't think I've seen a film with so many 'Chekhov's Guns,' props that you know will re-appear later to detonate their idyll. Most profoundly is the wife's pregnancy: as soon as you notice, you think: oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck.
The menace too, is so organically intrinsic to every second, and every scenario. Like so many tension-setters, also, the film is strong because we know so little. Like Aliens when the crew arrives on a planet with the people missing, your imagination doesn't need much help to start filling in the blanks, and all the possible reasons are unpleasant.
The weakness? For me, the moment I began to realize the monsters' Achilles heel, when I thought: Really? The US Military couldn't put 2 + 2 together? The monsters' greatest strength is also the thing that debilitates them, and this did make my mind wander and imagine how such creatures – wherever they came from – could cause such global devastation.
But I'd like to end this film with a strength, particularly with there being so many. During the scene involving Emily Blunt's pregnancy, I found myself wrapped up in a ball on the cinema chair, as I watched a primal line between birth and life, and horrific death, risk giving way. Like so many monster movies, what makes this film so resonant is the picture of nice, decent people, the kind you might know, dropped into Armageddon but remaining optimistic. Given the way the world seems to be going at the moment, this film might serve as both survival guide and anthem.