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A Quiet Place


nefilim
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A Movie Afraid to be Good:

The horror genre is an interesting subsection of cinema, as the essence of fear is not only a visceral reaction- but an effective one. Movies that are able to elicit a powerful response such as fear while only utilizing two sensory perceptions is an incredible feat that should be applauded whenever it is efficiently applied, however, the market of horror films in the current cultural climate is tepid at best.... for each masterpiece that is released in to theatres, at least 3 sub-par, barely competent films are released alongside of it: for every "Get Out" there is a "Demon House", for every "The Witch" there is a "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones", for every "It Follows" or "The Babadook" there is a "Ouija", a "Happy Death Day", or "Annabelle".  To say the least, the horror genre is a remarkably mixed bag.

 

Which brings us to "A Quiet Place".  High octane in concept and remarkably nuanced, "A Quiet Place"- uses fantastic visual story telling in order to communicate so much without having to dump exposition on to the audience.  The near complete absence of dialogue in the film forces the film to rely heavily on what Krasinski (as both a Director and an actor) are able to show the audience- to varying degrees of effectiveness. Yet, it is the sheer mastery of storytelling on the part of Krasinski that informs the audience of both stakes and the parameters that allow for audiences to be completely engaged with events of the film, as the comprehension of the circumstances presented maintain a facade that is hardly ever broken in order to laboriously explain things to the audience. As the film maintains a consistent glimpse in to the survival of those remaining in this brave new world, minor subtleties and details allow for the explicit extrapolation of every-day life- and as the routine of each of the characters presented becomes more and more real, so too do the characters become more inhabited.

 

The film preys upon not only the vulnerabilities of being exposed to a predator of whom you would be infinitesimally weaker than, but it also plays to fear that one may not be able to protect their own children: a fear that roots itself deeper than self-preservation in most paternal figures. Careful construction of obstacles within the paths of our protagonists create for some truly suspenseful and entirely unique segments of which- in of themselves- will stand out for years to com, with certain incidents surely to be as iconic as the famous blood-testing scene in John Carpenter's "The Thing". Personally, I feel that the crafting of certain events that occur within "A Quiet Place" are more effective and more memorable than much of the 'horror' aspects contained within Jordan Peele's "Get Out". 

 

However, the strengths of "A Quiet Place"- as numerous as they are- do not make up for some of the intrinsic and fundamental flaws that I have with the construction of the film.

 

With a 90-minute runtime, "A Quiet Place" is able to capture some very enamoring scenarios- but while the tension of each of these staged scenarios hinges upon the audience connecting with the on-screen characters, these characters have very little connectivity between themselves even remotely resembling a compelling relationship. Due to the film relying so heavily upon the silence of the characters, nuance and conflict are poorly expressed and- with regards to the main character drama- entirely lacking any sense of uncertainty, creating a paradigm that makes the audience expect everything that is going to happen.  In any instance of film, predictability is bad, however- within the confines of a horror film, and especially in a horror film- it renders nearly all tension inert.

 

The most unfortunate aspect of "A Quiet Place"- is the film's own hesitation and commitment to the type of horror film that it wants to be.  With so much delicate intention placed in to instances of horror within the film-  it is insulting for the film to have as many meaningless and unmotivated jump-scares as it currently does. Particularly within the first act, the film is littered with an abhorrent litany of people tapping each other on the shoulder- or something random falling in to frame accompanied by a loud noise- so much credence is given to superficial 'scares' that when the actual 'horror' elements of the film are brought in to play, they are merely weakened by the misfires that have been leading up to them.  Personally, I found myself getting annoyed with the film before the midway point- and if not for the solid direction in the third act of the film, I would have left the theatre in frustration. 

 

I don't know whom to blame in the instance of this shockingly mixed bag of a film. Whether it was the hesitation of the studio of not wanting to commit to a solid 30-minutes of natural escalation before hitting the audience with horror- or if it was the hesitation of John Krasinski as a Director not wanting to bore the audience (lest they forget they're in a horror film)- the end result is a film that feels not only well-crafted but is in of itself surrendering to the less competent of horror films in fear of being different and not seeing the same financial returns as a Blumhouse Project would.  The contrast between the good and the bad of this film is jarring and it creates an overall negative experience that I can not recommend to the average movie-goer. Sorry, @nefilim

 

There is good in "A Quiet Place", there is a lot of good... I just think that the concessions of the film compromised the effect as a whole- and while unfortunate, it is what it is. 

 

6/10

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