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John Krasinski and Emily Blunt try to keep the noise down in 'A Quiet Place'

Other | Tuesday 10th April 2018 | David

Wringing it's novel ‘What if?’ premise for all its worth, John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place delves into the unique logic of a world where keeping the noise down is a matter of life and death. It’s a thriller that thrives within self-imposed constrictions, standing out less for its frantic set-pieces than for the subtle tension that pervades even its most mundane passages.

Krasinski stars as Lee Abbott, father of three children and husband of Evelyn (Emily Blunt). An all-American nuclear family living in a post-apocalyptic 2020, the Abbotts are among the few human survivors in the wake of an invasion from extra-terrestrial predators. The only apparent weakness of these spider-like creatures is their lack of sight, a shortcoming they make up for with their extra-sensitive hearing. Communicating mostly via sign language, the Abbotts live a secluded, self-sufficient life on a farm where their day-to-day routine is meticulously ordered to make as little sound as possible. This is that rare horror film to justify its fake-out jump scares, since any sudden noises, no matter how innocent, could indeed mean death.

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The family’s delicate system of living threatens to collapse with the arrival of another child. Though preparations are put in place to mask Evelyn’s cries during labour, as well as the noises made by the newborn baby, mayhem predictably ensues in an engaging but rather conventional climax as the Abbotts employ every trick at their disposal to evade their sound-sensitive assailants.

The real meat of the film, however, comes largely in its first half as Krasinski patiently unpacks the particulars of a life lived in near-silence. Though the monsters themselves remain mostly unseen until the final third, their presence permeates every scene as an invisible threat hanging over the family and granting nervous tension to their every move (the metaphor is yours to pick: God? The government? Mass shootings?). It’s a distorted vision of family life set in an environment where anything above a whisper feels like a scream.

For Lee and Evelyn, parenting is a life-threatening occupation but the hardest part of the job might be the stress of sending their children out into a world of ever-present danger. It’s this universal form of anxiety that provides the warm, fretful heart to this strangest of family dramas.

A Quiet Place is in UK cinemas now!

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