REVIEW | ‘A Quiet Place,’ one of the best horror-thrillers in decades

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A monster that preys on sound. So you have to be very, very quiet. Munch on a tortilla chip and you’re dead. Walk on dry leaves and that distinct crackling sound will attract the monster and you will face a gruesome, violent death. That’s the premise of the terrifying horror-thriller “A Quiet Place,” the third directorial feature from actor John Krasinski, which he also co-wrote and stars in.

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Who would have thought that comedian Krasinski’s first foray into the horror genre would be powerfully scary? His first two features, “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” and “The Hollers,” are comedy-drama, and now he jumps to the difficult art of scaring people— and he’s not only good at it, but it seems like he’s already a veteran.

“A Quiet Place” opens with a curious prologue. In broad daylight, a family is oh-so-quietly looting an abandoned store in a deserted town. It’s a post-apocalyptic world. What happened? Where are the townsfolk? Why is the family extremely worried about making a sound? Then comes the shocking answer, leaving you terrified and disturbed for the rest of the movie.

Still unable to move on from the prologue, you are then whisked to a year later. And you see the same family living a Robinson Crusoe-like existence in a farm in upstate New York: the dad (Krasinski), the mom (Emily Blunt), the eldest deaf child (deaf actress Millicent Simmonds), and their little boy (Noah Jupe). And they are communicating in sign language and eye contact. Which means the monsters, no, more like aliens, are still lurking somewhere, ready to pounce at the slightest sound.

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John Krasinski, from “The Office” to a veteran horror director.
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Excellent child performers, Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds.

Living a life of silence is very challenging for the family, but pretty manageable. But there’s one major concern, though: the mom is pregnant. Upon finding this out, your eyelid starts twitching with stress and anxiety.  As if that’s not enough, the film kicks the fear factor up a notch by setting traps for sound in an unidentifiable future. By this time, you find yourself curled up in your cinema seat, whimpering.

And this is a family you’re watching, not a bunch of strangers stranded together and putting up with each other’s crap. This is family—so on top of trying to survive an alien invasion, they are also dealing with their own personal drama. And their drama is not a petty thing, but a heavy cross that they bear every single day; the guilt, the shame deeply embedded in their psyche. And it puts tears in your eyes. And you’d hate to see any of them die.

Krasinski directs himself and his fictional family so effectively, and with the help of the terrific cast, it’s one hell of an impressive silent film. But it is Blunt (Krasinski’s real-life wife) and Jupe that prove to be the most outstanding silent actors—the terror in their faces so raw and realistic, pushing you to scream inside the movie house.

“A Quiet Place” may have a few illogical elements to the narrative, and some scenes are reminiscent of “Jurassic Park.” But you easily forgive this, because it highly succeeds in providing the jitters, the thrill, and the unbearably stretched-out suspense, all layered with a deep sense of poignant family drama. It’s a brisk 95 minutes of a super scary, fun, and emotional ride. One of the best horror-thrillers in decades.

4.5 out of 5 stars
Opens April 11, 2018 in Philippine cinemas

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