Cast: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds
Director: John Krasinski
As I settled into my seat to watch A Quiet Place, it was with a growing sense of dread. The movie hadn’t started yet, but the hall was packed, an anomaly for an early afternoon show of an English horror film in Noida. I listened to the emphatic young man on my right incessantly babble on to his date with a heavying heart, convinced that him, along with the collective of chattering college kids sitting right ahead and their various other cohorts seated around the hall, were going to utterly ruin A Quiet Place. Even before the credits began rolling, I began mentally composing a clever, caustic diatribe on the ill-mannered NCR moviegoer. And then it happened.
Though there were no opening credits and the film began without warning, an immediate hush fell over the hall, the murmurings and mutterings extinguishing as suddenly as the blowing out of a flame. And we all watched, silent and rapt, as John Krasinski’s horror film unfolded.
The story itself is bare as bones: The Abbots, comprising father Lee (Krasinski), mother Evelyn (the ever-radiant Emily Blunt), and their kids, Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe), are among the few survivors of a deadly alien attack in 2020. A race of large, blind but vicious extraterrestrial creatures, who hunt by sound, have disemboweled and eaten most of humanity, leaving straggling pockets of survivors to scavenge through the detritus of their towns and cities, for food and supplies.
It’s apparent that the Abbots have survived through sheer force of will on the part of Lee and Evelyn, who are determined to protect their children from all the horrors of this silent new world. They’re helped in no small part by the fact that the entire family was already adept at sign language prior to the attacks, due to Regan being born deaf.
Now they live in an isolated farmstead, surrounded by the relative quiet of the countryside, making regular scavenging trips to a nearby city, now desolate, with their every movement stifled and speech unspoken. Lee, in particular, is concerned that his children learn the requisite survival skills, and is a tough taskmaster, if not exactly a stern one. This causes certain frictions between him and his maturing, strong-willed daughter, and the film thereon explores the themes of family, loyalty, love and respect for one other. With alien monsters.
Krasinski seems to have taken a leaf out of the book of Gaspar Noe and other masters of cinema du corps, creating in viewers of A Quiet Place a sense of discomfort, nay, dread, with the use of uncomfortable camera angles and infrasound, so much infrasound. For the uninitiated, infrasound is a low-frequency, high pressure sound that can cause a sense of unease, discomfort and or awe in its listeners and is thus used extensively in horror and other extremist forms of cinema.
Because for a film that has such a paucity of spoken dialogues and in which music is minimal, the soundscape of A Quiet Place is utterly terrifying. The infrasound wraps its tentacles just beyond the grasp of your hearing, barely perceptible but starkly oppressive, imbuing even the most innocuous of sounds with potentiate for death. Footsteps on sand become stomps across cracking ice, the flick of a lighter a seemingly final, fatal flare.
Even if A Quiet Place somehow doesn’t win an Oscar for Sound Mixing, it still managed a minor miracle. A gaggle of latecomers, who ebulliently burst into the hall five minutes after the movie had begun, was immediately, fiercely and universally, shushed by an entire audience, the loudest stifled admonition from the garrulous gentleman on my right. Suitably chastened, they quietly sunk into the nearest seats, and in another moment all was still again, a petrified audience deafened again by silence.
And that’s the thing. For a horror movie with alien monsters, there’s very little blood or gore or graphic violence; instead, it relies on the emotiveness of its cast, its inventive creature feature, some beautifully shot cinema, and a taut script -- devoid of any long-winded speeches and references to the indomitable human spirit, to produce a fantastic horror film experience. And, with its themes of family and fidelity, it’s so much more than just a chills and thrills flick. It’s about the very real fear parents have about bringing up kids in a world overrun, if not with alien monsters, with horrors beyond counting and somehow teaching them the skills, and sense of hope, they need to survive and prosper.
Anyway, before this all gets too heavy, allow me to leave you with a final thought to lighten the mood, in that the idea of India being attacked by creatures who hunt by sound is more droll than deadly. In the cities, if the poor monsters didn’t die of sheer fatigue, they’d be run over (given their strangely bovine gait). In the countryside, of course, they would end up being poached.
Rating - 4/5