A Quiet Place (2018)
My brain combined The Thing and The War of the Worlds to suggest to me A Quiet Place, one of many recent horror blockbusters I hadn’t seen. A family are trapped in their valley by blind alien creatures with impenetrable armour and incredibly acute hearing. The family have adapted to the new reality in ingenious way, but their youngest son finds a toy in an abandoned shop, and not old enough to understand the danger, turns it on. The noise it makes attracts an alien that kills him. The film skips ahead a year to show the family struggling with loss and guilt, the trauma of their son’s death compounded by the fact they are fighting to survive off the land, the woman is pregnant, and the smallest noise could get them all killed.
The locations are The Thing-like in spirit but transplanted from Antarctica to rural American cornfields—characters walk between buildings on unspoken errands, there are marked paths lit in the darkness, and an unseen enemy lurks all around. The valley their piece of land lies in makes their farm a visual hub for surrounding farms, whose people they almost never see because it is too dangerous. Everyone has retreated into their homes to survive. (This came out in 2018. How little they knew.) Each night the father lights a fire on top of a corn silo, and the other farms respond with their own. This is all the community they have left.
There are plenty of thoughtful details like this, and Krasinski displays a touch of Spielberg in the way he shows the children’s lives, as well as in the adrenaline-inducing set pieces, some of which remind me of the children running from velociraptors in Jurassic Park. The emotional manipulation can feel a little overt, and the jump scares a bit annoying, but it’s a straight story with children in peril and parental sacrifice at its heart. It’s also great to see a deaf character in such a prominent role in a story. A Quiet Place was a surprise. I can see why it made the splash it did when it came out.