SXSW Review: A Quiet Place
In this post-apocalyptic creature feature, three vision handicapped creatures manage to whittle the world down ‘til Upstate New Yorkers start dressing like haute couture campers in a Bass Pro Shop ad. The creatures have super sensitive hearing, see? If you make the slightest sound anywhere, at any distance from them, they’ll arrive in the company of jolting music notes (that'd even clip in Dolby Atmos).
They’ve got praying mantis arms that they gallop on at variable speeds, heeding the characters that will live or die as necessary, and look like lobsters made out of CGI. We meet Jim (John Krasinski), in his office, crossing off “Japan” in pink highlighter as he blasts out a distress beacon, via morse code — to keep it a quiet place.
Jim and Emily Blunt have that survivor movie resourcefulness, really, some oddball abilities they’ve acquired over just a year’s worth of apocalypse, like nursing a broken hearing aid device, or giving birth to your own baby in a bathtub.
Luckily for them, though, they’ve got a military grade radio broadcasting system in their basement. Maybe Jim dabbled in Ham Radio? Maybe it's best not to ask. Later, it’ll play into an ingenious scheme to conquer the lobster's anatomy, a code the world’s leading science and superweapons powers couldn’t crack. Also, shotguns seem to do fine.
Luckily for us, Jim lines the basement with newspaper headlines that announce the alien’s emergence, so he can remind himself, and keeps useful notes like “Known in existence: 3” so he can keep count. Three lobsters struggle with one family, how’d they kill the world? Are there only three in Upstate New York? Is the apocalypse only happening in Upstate New York? If three internationally, this lobster trio killed off all or most of Japan and the ten other countries on Jim’s list that he’s reached out to over the course of a year? Is Jim doling out morse code to one country a month or is this a daily routine? If daily, does Jim print out lists of all the countries in the world each day, cross them all out in pink highlighter, and print some more? Does Jim only use pink highlighter to cross out the countries on his list? How often does Jim have to go back to town to resupply his highlighters?
Jim has a deaf daughter, because: good foil in super-hearing-lobster-invasion movie. Their relationship arc is explained to us in case we didn’t catch on, by Jim’s son. Call it sonsplaining. Basically, daughter thinks her father doesn’t love her. But the twist is, it turns out, he actually does. This film is not just about Jim from The Office in an apocalypse though. It is directed by Jim from The Office, who is married to Emily Blunt in real life (who is not in The Office) and who’s not married to Pam in real life - or in the movie - but who, I just now realize, must get his paper and highlighters from Dunder Mifflin.
Early in we learn, the threat is not lobsters, but startling musical discordance in the face of quiet. When it turns out that there are not lobsters creeping outside, but friendly neighborhood raccoons, the effect of the horror-movie-jolt remains the same, because we’re scared for our ears, not for the characters. Not by these lobsters.
A Quiet Place puts you in a world where the entire planet (almost) has been wiped out by these fast-moving creatures that hunt people for ... well, I don’t know. Maybe food, maybe for sport, I seriously don't know since we never really see what the creature does with a kill. Anyway, we have 3 of these 'Last of Us Clickers' hunting in a certain area, I refuse to believe these 3 things wiped out the planet and decided to settle in the hills of Kentucky (or where ever this takes place) for a change of pace. On top of trying to survive being mauled by monsters that can hear a pin drop from 10 miles away our family is also preparing to welcome a new member of the family, yup that's right folks not only are they being hunted by said monsters with super-hearing, they are also going to give birth to the monster’s dinner alarm!
If you go to movies expecting explanations like, why this is happening? Where did these things come from? How could the military not stop them? then stay home because none of these things will be answered and you'll just walk out pissed. the one thing the movie does well is jump scares. When you're watching a movie that most of the dialogue is sign language and the only thing you hear is ambient sound when they throw something out at you, you will jump. One scene that almost made me jump outta my skin didn't even have one of the monsters in it. They do an excellent job of building suspense in the film, and I gotta give them props for that. Other than that, it’s a pretty average movie with some decent scares in it.