It's one of those trendy PG-13 movies. You know, the successful ones? I'm always a little bummed out when a pretty solid horror movie is PG-13. It's because it goes against my code of PG-13 movies always being a little less than perfect. I know. I'm a complete hypocrite because I'm ignoring tons of data that says that PG-13 is actually a valid rating system. Regardless, this movie is scary enough to be an R. Those monsters are pretty disturbing. I can imagine that thirteen-year-olds get pretty nervous around this kind of stuff. Also, there's some blood and a cringy, yet tame scene involving a nail.
DIRECTOR: John Krasinski
Jim from The Office made a movie. I'm sure he loves that. All his hard work and his efforts only amount to being the guy from The Office. I have to write this pretty quickly. My wife thinks I'm taking a nap. She's out by the pool on her birthday and I'm pretty much done with my list. If I told her that I was going to write an unnecessary movie review, I don't think that she'd be exactly thrilled with me. Regardless, I did want to write about A Quiet Place because it feels like I saw this a million years ago. It's been less than a week, but I still want to write something about this movie. Mainly because I write something about every movie I see, but regardless.
This movie is one of those movies that shouldn't have been a big deal. It slipped through so many demographics to hit this sweet spot of cultural influence that most horror movies could only dream of. I didn't think it would blow up that much. I mean, look at the generic promotional material that came out of this movie. It was practically given the contemporary movie font with the right shading and released. But then people were actually pretty scared by this movie. A Quiet Place works entirely on having a cool premise. The thing that kind of gets under my craw --and I'm not proud of this --is that it is an imperfect premise. I know that the Krasinski and crew (Is Blunt part of that? I hope so.) put a lot of hours into making sure that this movie worked. This seemed like a fun, corporate-friendly passion project that Krasinski probably has thought about quite a bit. But there are some rough edges. I mean, don't get me wrong! I loved it and the part of me that really just enjoys films ignored these things just enough to get through the movie. But there are so many moments that just don't make a lick of sense. I don't know why I have to nitpick. It's ridiculously stupid and I know I should be a better person. But someone before I saw it said "waterfall" and then that giant loophole happened. My big question is how there were as many survivors as there were. But that's all moot. The movie works. The movie works. I have to keep repeating that. Fundamentally, the movie works because the core elements work in conjunction with a high concept monster. I don't know if the family in this story (I had to look up the name "The Abbots" because no one calls each other by name in the movie) is any different from other horror movie families, but there is the dynamic of frustration that comes with most kids despite the horrors around them. It's odd having the characters so entrenched in the horror world that is in this movie that it almost becomes common place. The boy (Marcus? Really? Okay.) still is afraid of the world, but he also has these insecurities. Regan (okay, I think her name popped up once) has a little more depth. But it is her character that I'm mad at.
Regan kind of sucks. There, I said it. A big message in this story (and I've just decided to go into SPOILERS) is how nothing is really Regan's fault. Okay, the beginning of the story is Regan's fault, but it is forgivable. She didn't listen to her parents, but didn't know that the kid was going to grab batteries. That one makes a lot of sense and I can see how that can be a defining moment for the character. She harbors guilt and then manifests that guilt outwards against her father. I do like how John Krasinski isn't the typical angry father in this movie. Regan is just a crazy person / teenager. But then she leaves her mom, who is very pregnant, alone. She only does so to be mad at everyone. First, I don't know why this big trip with Dad has to happen so close to the delivery time. It's all a bit much. It seems like the movie jumps through these giant hoops to get Emily Blunt to deliver her own baby. Like, that scene is awesome, but who in their right minds would leave this very pregnant woman alone at that time. When she checks the calendar, the rest of the movie is just spelled out right there. While I think that Dad and Son leaving is stupid, it at least makes a little bit of sense. They are getting food. I don't think that Son needs to go, but there's somewhat of a sense of logic to that whole experience. It's just that Regan...geez, Regan! I mean, teenage angst can only go so far. The big message communicated to Regan is that it is not her fault that the following things happened. Agree to disagree, A Quiet Place. Regan's selfishness may not have intentionally brought about the terrible events of the later part of the movie, but it is full-on negligence. In a world where everything is calculated and survival is dependent on constant vigilance, you'd think leaving your very pregnant mother right before she is due to both make a statement and visit your brother's grave is just in poor taste. Also, why is that grave all the way out there? I know he died there, but think about how much easier it would be in a world without sound to just bury him near the farm.
The movie does play up on one of my least favorite tropes. It's not awful and I do like the movie quite a bit, but the magical answer for beating the monsters is obnoxious. You'd think that we'd figure out that the creatures who kill by sound would be susceptible to high pitched frequencies. I mean, we just talked about this with Fight, Zatoichi, Fight, didn't we? I don't like when answers are stumbled upon. Dad has just too much knowledge in this world. It's got a little bit of that I Am Legend versus The Omega Man thing going on. What is Dad's endgame with the cochlear implants? Were the previous generation's implants not working, so he was trying to fix them? Why was she still wearing them if they weren't working? I don't know what was going on there, but again, that might be my own ignorance. I don't know why a movie like this needs resolution. Yeah, it is awesome when mom shotguns a monster in the face and it is optimistic knowing that she'll know how to do it again. But these characters can't create a solution for the world, can they? That seems a bit absurd. As part of this dislike of the ending, I do like how I know very little about the origins of these creatures. (Don't be surprised if this shows up in the sequel that's already in development. If there's a shot of space at the beginning of that movie, I'm going to be very disappointed.) Movies like this and Predator work because there's only so much info we need to tell this story. Yeah, a well developed origin story can be thrilling, but very rarely is that origin story absolutely vital to the storytelling process. In a movie like A Quiet Place, the only thing that we really need to know is that the monsters react to sound and that they seem pretty unkillable. There's a kind of shameless dry erase board where Dad apparently just wrote "ARMOR?!?" I don't like that kind of stuff. Yes, it is necessary. I know that some test audience member probably wondered why they didn't just blow them all to hell. There has to be a really frustrating element to making movies accommodating for morons, but these moments just come across as ham-fisted and silly.
Regardless, despite my constant nitpicking, A Quiet Place is a scary movie with a pretty good concept to it. I would write more about the positive elements, but those elements just make sense. It's quiet, which is terrifying. (I gritted my teeth at anyone who shifted during the movie or took a swig of their sodas at high tension parts.) The monsters are jump-scary, which I like. (I know a lot of people don't.) It's fun and makes you think. That's all great. Yeah, it's imperfect. But I'd rather see this imperfect movie than the dozens of "scary" movies that are released regularly.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.