A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place is a science fiction / horror film which may have got your attention thanks to its USP of a monster which zeroes in on sound. In the poster pic right, star Emily Blunt is trying to keep silent while there's a monster in the house - and she's about to give birth.

I don't want this blog to end up a movie review site, and hence don't intend to post about every film I see; I wouldn't have commented on this film, except that the premise has led to attendance at a cinema showing being an interesting experience. The film is very quiet for long stretches. Music and sound are used to heighten tension; but the main characters use sign language a lot of the time for obvious reasons, and for the most part we're listening to ambient sounds, suffering the tension of knowing that since this is a horror film, a sound is going to disrupt the silence at any moment and death is going to come running.

So, by all reports I've heard, audiences have tended to observe the need to keep quiet. And in going yesterday, we avoided going during term time and so it was a 'mature' audience. Additionally, being a morning showing, I reckoned there would have been less temptation for anyone to take in noisy snacks, but lo and behold, there was a guy with a plastic container of of Doritos and dips and stuff in front of us. Thankfully, he did his last bit of crunching just before the film started. It was great. No one coughed, no phones went off, and we were holding our breaths from beginning to end.

Yes, it's a 'jump-scare' type of horror film, but essentially, it was science fiction, in that it speculated about survival in a near future scenario. The idea was that these creatures have arrived on earth, it's never explained how, and in a matter of months (the number of days since it all started is flashed up on screen at intervals) they've wiped out most of the human population. The film begins with a standard apocalypse scene, with our main characters scavenging in nearby stores. And... No, no spoilers.

They're a family, and their survival maybe stems from the daughter being deaf, hence why they know sign language. Of course, the teenager's deafness (she's a great actress by the way) is a two-edged sword, because although it has helped the whole family adapt to this terrifying situation, it's also a deadly fact that she can't herself hear the sounds which threaten all of them. And, being a teenager, she struggles with rebelliousness and is liable to make a mistake, and... The father is played by the director, John Krasinski and he's done a truly impressive job on the film, In addition, he's married to Emily Blunt in real life which hugely informs the weight the film places on the sense of the family's togetherness, and what the mother's pregnancy means to them.

I think I'm free to talk about the monsters, and how likely they are. These creatures have no eyes, but very acute hearing, and great speed of movement when they're attracted by a sound and attack. I wondered how they could ever evolve like that. We do have animals on earth who use sound to hunt, like bats and dolphins, but I struggled to think of one which employed passive hearing rather than echo location, until I thought of owls. But owls also have eyes, in fact they have incredible night vision which far outstrips ours. Now I'm thinking of various animals which use hearing and also the sense of smell. And the animals we have on earth - well, usually under it - which don't have eyes did have them earlier in their evolution. But just hearing, by itself? It seems very limiting and to me a little unlikely. I thought, maybe a creature like this could evolve on one of those rogue planets which wander the galaxy - naturally, depending on favourable circumstances like having a lot of internal heat. Or on the dark side of a tidally locked planet. All a bit tenuous...

Never mind. One thing is clear: these particular monsters don't seem intelligent enough to develop space travel, so presumably they've been dropped on Earth by someone else, to do a bit of 'cleansing' before coming back. I don't think there'll be a sequel to this film, but the return might be a premise for one.

Do I want to quibble about anything or tease at plot points? No, no need; when you think about the film afterwards - and it is one of those films when you very much do - there are a few things you may murmur doubtfully about, but really they don't amount to anything significant. I'd recommend it. Neither of us would normally spend money on a horror film, but we both thought this was very good. Don't worry about the label, just know that you're in for an unusually tension-tightening cinema experience.


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