As a great lover of horror movies, it was with a jolt that I realised that A Quiet Place is the first horror movie I have seen in the cinema. And at first, I thought I’d made a huge mistake: the cinema was crawling with people. And this was supposed to be a film watched in silence, I was well aware. Perhaps I should have waited for it to come out on Netflix. I love horror. In the least pretentious way possible, I want a pure experience of a movie.
The unease started creeping in as more and more people filled the cinema. Admittedly, it was one of the smaller screens of the already rather small New Picture House, St Andrews – but nonetheless, a full cinema is not to be sniffed at these days. But why this film? I couldn’t help but think. The one film you have to be quiet for, and it coincides with the first time in living memory that a cinema is absolutely packed. All through the adverts, popcorn, quite possibly the loudest food on earth, crackled. Drinks fizzed. Packets were opened. Chatter swelled. My companion and I exchanged a concerned glance. This wasn’t the way John Krasinski wanted it, we thought.
And yet, as soon as the BBFC Certification screen popped up, it became obvious that the audience was completely on board with the concept of the film, to my great relief. Silence fell. Not a single piece of popcorn to be heard. John Krasinski would have been so proud.
And prouder should he be for the film itself. The whole audience was on edge for the entirety of the runtime – and with good reason.
At first, it’s one of those films that keeps you waiting. The characters know there’s something out there. You know there’s something out there. Everyone is just – waiting. And once it starts in A Quiet Place, it never stops. Scene after scene inspiring baited breaths, cringes, grimaces, poorly suppressed shrieks – you name it, the film deals it.
The film is built on suspense, which skyrockets as a heavily pregnant Emily Blunt enters the frame. Pregnancy in a horror movie is never a good sign – especially one where monsters will find you and kill you if you utter so much as a whimper. As anyone who’s seen an episode of One Born Every Minute knows, things are not looking good for Blunt. Why on earth the two lead characters decide to have a baby in a be-silent-or-be-killed dystopia, we shall never know; but boy, does Blunt’s character pay for it in what has to be the most stressful labour known to man (or woman, as the case may be).
A Quiet Place stands up on the strength of its premise alone – if you make a sound, monsters will murder you. It’s so straightforward yet so gripping, and the film is well-crafted enough that it makes the absolute most of this oh-so-simple plot. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tense while watching a film. I almost breathed a sigh of relief as I left the cinema.
The acting is also very solid – John Krasinski, who I only know as sweet, lanky Jim from The Office USA is utterly transformed into a haggard and hard-done by protector. Emily Blunt is beautiful and badass as the adorable but extremely capable matriarch, very much the lioness of the pride as maternal instinct dictates her every move. The film’s central value of a strong family unit is grounded by the lack of dialogue. In the itching silence, the family must communicate with their body language, and the actors all do an excellent job of creating family bonds, most notably Blunt and Krasinski, whose on-screen chemistry mirrors their off-screen chemistry as they share ear buds and a slow dance in a rare heartwarming scene.
It’s a film that absolutely benefits from the big screen and the feeling of being part of an audience all experiencing the same, horrible anticipation. Love horror films or hate them, this one will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.
Images courtesy of IMDb.