This horror film works extremely powerfully on a number of levels.
It perfectly demonstrates Hitchcock’s thinking “There is a distinct difference between ‘suspense’ and surprise’, and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. – if filmmakers keep spectators unaware, they can create “fifteen seconds of surprise,” but if they inform them of the impending encounter, they can produce “fifteen minutes of suspense”
In A Quiet Place director (and co-star) John Krasinski (who directed three episodes of The Office – not exactly a training ground for this) has clearly listened to Hitchcock because everything about this superb movie is driven by suspense. I counted ten times when I leaped from my seat, but I was on the edge of it from start to finish.
It’s lean, taut, beautifully shot, expertly sound-tracked and superbly sound-crafted (absolutely essential in a movie that’s about noise).
His acting, and that of his entire family (particularly the outstanding Emily Blunt – his real life wife), is razor sharp.
And the whole thing is done and dusted in a creditable 80 minutes flat.
Bish, bash, bosh. Job done.
Scared the shit out of you.
Now, go home.
Really, this is film craft at its finest and goes straight into my top ten horrors of all time alongside…
- The Shining
- It Follows
- Get Out
- The Exorcist
- Paranormal Activity
What brings these all together (with the exception of The Shining and possibly Rec) is the lack of REAL horror.
Less, in my book, is generally more.
What makes this movie so damned good is the relationship Krasinski builds between members of the family. His willingness to dispose of lead characters with a minimum of fuss makes the whole much more believable and credible and the fact that the story treats its audience with respect. It has a strong beginning, middle and end although we join the story some 89 days into its telling.
The visual clues are subtle. The emotions real, small and detailed.
He makes few plot mistakes (although the ‘nail’ set up is a little contrived and ‘the spaceship’ has a pretty big ‘guess what’s coming’ flag attached to it).
The gore is minimal which is how I like it.
Now, look at that list above and you can see a golden age of horror emerging: A Quiet Place, Get Out, It Follows, Rec and, just missing the list, French horror, Raw, are all pretty recent. They are all minimalist but they are all a) brilliantly directed and b) finely acted. The craft skills are evident in abundance in all five, but none of them need a lot of gore to engage their audience.
I hope Krasinski gets his just rewards for this.