Monday, April 16, 2018

A Quiet Place

By Sati. Monday, April 16, 2018 , , , , , , , ,
(spoilers!)
It seems like it's a new tradition in movie world to lavish an undeserved praise all over at least one horror movie a year. As great as The VVitch was it's not exactly the scariest movie since The Exorcist which some of the reviewers were claiming. Then we had It Comes the Night, which is usually winning polls for "what is the worst instance of false marketing in the last few years?" these days. And this year it's A Quiet Place.

The hyperbolic praise for this film is ridiculous. Even when it comes to the best thing about it - which is far and away the performance by Emily Blunt - the reviews she is getting are nonsense. Blunt's work is the most intriguing thing here but I saw claims that her work is gonna go down in history as one of the best performances in genre.

All I could do was to roll my eyes.

Which is something I did a lot during this movie.

There are few good things about A Quiet Place. The best thing here are performances. Blunt and John Krasinski, who also directed the movie, are lovely as loving but also grief-stricken parents. There's also good performance from Millicent Simmonds who plays their daughter. And then there's kid number 2 whose character appears to exist solely so that someone would hold a baby in the film's finale when the ridiculous resolution comes. The attention to detail in production design is commendable as is the world building. But that would be where the praise for the screenplay concocted out of various cliches and poorly thought out ideas ends.

The film has quite a lot of heart but it majorly relies on manipulating the audience into caring. And it does so by killing the parents' youngest kid, as a result of a chain of increasingly implausible events. That's the problem with A Quiet Place. The word that I'd use to describe its script is crass. Nothing happens organically. It's a plot device chasing another plot device with huge dose of exposition, which in a movie where the first word is uttered halfway through is really quite impressive.

There's a toy left in pharmacy and when the dad sees his young kid is interested in it he politely asks for the kid not to take it. Even more surprisingly, the youngest kid is walking last with the group - two parents and three kids who for some reason all made the trip to the pharmacy. The reason for that is that the kid must die. On the heels of losing a kid his parents decide to get pregnant and bring a crying baby into this world during the silent apocalypse. The reason for that is when you are writing a horror and want it to be scary it seems like a cool thing to have a pregnant lady and then a newborn around. We also see Lee making hearing aids for his daughter - because the writers needed a way for monsters to be defeated somehow. That particular plot device is Signs' territory of stupid but comparing to A Quiet Place, Signs is a masterpiece of subtlety and respecting the audience.

Never mind all the convenient plot devices, the script as a whole is written solely for the benefit of the audience, not with the intent to create believable human beings and events, which should always be a priority, no matter what genre you write for. The more into the horror genre the film turns, the less sense the characters' actions make. The scene where Evelyn gives a 'moving' monologue to Lee, as in to a guy who has spent entire movie protecting the kids, to protect his kids is offensively manipulative and transparently idiotic. It exists only to elicit maximum response from audience, since few moments later Lee dies for his kids. Yes, the moments preceding that are lovely but lovely moments cannot rescue the film when its script is so poor.
Even little things make no sense. The nail in this film is by far the scariest thing - we see it and we know one of the characters is going to step on it. Thanks to that every single time we see the stairs we feel tension. But even that was not executed well. The way we are shown the nail is when Evelyn's clothing catches on it. Now, if your clothing catches on something sharp and it's a situation where not only your life but the life of your entire family depends on being quiet and not stepping on sharp objects, wouldn't you take a moment to investigate what happened? Yes, you would. But she doesn't.

Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.

There's more - the raccoons that lived long enough to give the movie the opportunity to fake out its audience. And the sole human character the family meets is a guy who brings upon them the monster attack. It reeked of Krasinski and the writers realizing things are getting boring so we better throw in some action. The script is so reactionary and so poorly thought out it completely took me out of the movie. What we have here is something built on plot holes and conveniences that also wants to be deep character study and subtle drama. None of it works as a whole film. This is a movie with sequences and performances that belong in a very good dramatic film, based on a script of trashy, derivative horror.
Speaking of derivative, there is absolutely nothing interesting or memorable about the antagonists here. They look like every other science fiction monster out there and the execution is shockingly poor - Stranger Things has better monsters than this. Also there's not a lot of logic to the creatures as they seem to attack even when there is no excessive noise so the film doesn't even make sense on this level. But still, with Cloverfield Paradox out there ,every single movie getting released after it in 2018 is safe. Ain't nothing dumber going to be released in monster movie genre in a while.

Other than performances, the cinematography is gorgeous, the music by Marco Beltrami is very good and the sound work is as suspected, impressive. You know horror movie is effective when it takes something ordinary, here it's the sound, and turns it into something frightening. And the film does have plenty of tension. For all the suspension of disbelief it requires, the birth scene is very effective, as is the scene in submerged basement.
Krasinski and Blunt are one of the loveliest and most likable celebrity couples around and that film is such a love letter to her from Krasinski. Blunt has never looked more angelic than she does here, being portrayed a someone good, kind, capable and loving. She is simply glowing on the screen. Krasinski even gives his wife badass Aliens moment near the end. What a lovely, lovely gift to his spouse he made with this movie. It is so sweet to witness how he sees her - it actually elevated the movie for me.

But if you are expecting a great, refreshing horror movie, you won't get it. A Quiet Place steals from everything - Signs, Witness, Alien 3, hell, there's even a dash of Titanic in there - and accomplishes very little in the process. It's yet another proof that without a solid script or at least a director who can elevate that script you can't make magic. Krasinski tries but he isn't - at least not yet - someone like James Wan who successfully blends heart and horror in his Conjuring series. Those films, while filled with cliches, have people behind them who understand the most important thing about movie making - you have to respect your characters, the rules of the world they are in and most importantly - the audience.

A Quiet Place does none of these things.

64/100
 A Quiet Pace (USA, 90 min, 2018)
Plot: A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.
Director: John Krasinski
Writers: Bryan Woods, Scott Beck
Stars: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds

16 comments:

  1. I liked it a lot more than you did. I guess I was just able to look past the dumb decisions but the nail did provide a very convenient scary moment. The only plausible reason for her not to check was that she thought it was simply caught behind the step not something sharp. But that's just making excuses, which you shouldn't make for a movie.

    Still, I thought Blunt was really good, and I liked the world building. I would have loved to see even more of it!

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    1. Yeah the world building was the best part of the script. That part of the story and how the family tried to adjust their ways to survive was very clever.

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  2. YOU'RE TEARING ME APART, LISA!

    For me, the only thing I took issue with was the pregnancy itself. When I saw the trailers, I assumed she was pregnant before all this went down. I think if they would've had a bit of dialogue saying how it was a mistake and they tried to end it or something, I would've taken it better. But other than that, Everything else worked for me.

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    1. LOL :P

      Yeah same here. Then the whole title saying how many days it was happened and I was like 'WHAT?!' it would be easily avoidable if they just made it that she became pregnant before that happened.

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  3. Oooo I didn't realize your score would be THAT low. I definitely liked it more than you did, but I also appreciate your gripes about the script stealing, etc. Blunt's performance was good, but people are already whispering about an Oscar nomination, and I'm thinking people need to slow the f down.

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    1. It's actually quite high, I just didn't want to rate it lower than mother! :)

      That Oscar talk is nuts.

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  4. I generally liked the film but I thought the writing was kinda shitty because of all the reasons you have pointed out. I laughed at the ending because that's how they defeat the villains in Mars Attacks! :')

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    1. It is? Well that's just another thing making it such a 'classy' ending :)

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  5. "Scariest film since...." STOP... I'm sick of hearing that bullshit. I will see the film when it's on TV or available at my local library. Thank you very much.

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    1. Yeah you won't miss that much :)

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  6. I definitely liked it more than you did. The only issue I had was with the pregnancy. I mean, who would have sex, especially unprotected sex, during a silent apocalypse? That's like signing your own death warrant!

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    1. I'd have sex during any kind of apocalypse, but never unprotected one :)

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  7. I think I enjoyed it more than you. Excellently written review by the way. When I saw it, the cinema was the quietest I’ve ever seen.

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    1. Thank you! Yeah that was for sure interesting cinematic experience

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  8. Hahahahaha!

    "It's a plot device chasing another plot device with huge dose of exposition". Yup yup. Especially the pregnancy. Dumb dumb dumb indeed.

    I thought the nail was stupid, no tension for me. It just seemed like yet another plot device, we see it and instantly know that someone will step on it. Knowing this killed any tension for me.

    You acknowledge the positives well, and your analysis as always is excellent. You seemed to like this more than I did, but I walked out thinking it was a piece of shit and was blind to the positives that you accurately mention.

    But still, the praise lavished on this is ridiculous. Average is a generous description of this one I think. And I think your score was generous too =P this was the same score you gave mother!

    Anyways, great post. You really have a knack of breaking a film down. Have you ever thought of writing anything fictional?

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  9. great review sati, had to run to the cinema not to read it before!
    that it all boils down to respect for the audience most of all is a great point.
    I did enjoy watching it, but a lot of people in the cinema were vocal about 'this was complete shit'.

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