Few movies released in 2018 have really grabbed my attention. One of them is ‘A Quiet Place’. Usually, when I truly adore a movie/series/ any media, I tend to watch/play them multiple times. If possible, that is. I do try. This particular movie is such a brilliant work that I went to the theater again about a week later and re-watched it! My post isn’t going to be a review or a rant but more like an overall high level observation.
Before you read any further, please take note that there will be massive spoilers ahead. Proceed only after watching the movie at least once 🙂 Goes without saying, whatever you’ll read below in my personal take. Let’s begin…
Contrast is extremely important. I believe ‘Timing’ and ‘Pacing’ to be few of the main factors that can really boost up contrast (when not talking about color). What is this contrast that I’m talking about? Well, from its ‘utter silence’ (read, lack of vocals/speech, sign language) as the movie begins to the point of reaching ‘first speech’ (read, voice or almost a sign of sound that makes a voice). The audience is slowly absorbed by the way they communicate i.e., the sign language within this long uncomfortable stretch of silence until the carpet-lantern-fire accident in their home during the kids’ play session! This is the first moment when you actually get to ‘almost hear’ their younger male child ‘mouthing’ the words… “I’m sorry”. This to me told quite a few things… like ‘he truly doesn’t practice sign language properly’ and is ‘still trying his best’ to fit and survive in this severely restricted and inconvenient situation that they’re all in.
A scene that comes in later wherein Emily Blunt is teaching him math, she has to whisper clearly and make him learn signs as clearly as possible. These moments are meant to make him realize that ‘he needs to adapt early’ and ‘grow up to be a strong survivor’ to ‘take care of the family’. These first whispered words are indeed calming to ears, mainly because this is absolutely the first time as an audience, we actually get to hear some vocal speech… first real vocal exchange of words.
Mise en scène. One of the first things you notice is how smoothly this movie tells its story. In ‘A Quiet Place’, surroundings, structures, placement of objects, scribbled whiteboards, design structures and other such elements coupled with ambiance form the storytelling and strong narrative part of the environment. Perhaps, an excellent showcase of ‘Show, don’t tell’. Apart from these, there are obviously few scenarios where the movie indeed sticks to ‘Tell, don’t show’. Earning the knowledge of these creatures/ aliens as we get to glance at the whiteboard (in the radio/ brainstorm room) for the first time is done quite smartly. There are few shots that zoom in the ‘much needed info’ so the audience most definitely can get a second chance to catch phrases in the environment. Personally, I would’ve loved if some of these second chances at reading the environment were cut/edited out (as their absence would make it an extra notch brilliant ;))
Plus, don’t forget the wide-angled ‘bonfires’ shot that bring the remaining human survivors closer to each other… the presence of life and the comforting nature of knowing that other survivors do exist!
Deferred First revelation.
It is made pretty clear that the family and other surviving humans aren’t aware of the creature’s weakness. I’m not sure if it was clear for everyone or not but at least to me, the first revelation of their weakness is clearly depicted in the farm when the alien creeps up behind Regan (their deaf child). Funny thing is, I actually observed this properly when I watched the movie again, not first time though :/! The way this worked is that even if the audience did notice the weakness during this scene, the characters aren’t aware of it. That is indeed another brilliant touch! Regan actually connects the dots in the final scene and that’s their true first revelation of finding the creature’s weakness! In case, the audience does miss the evident farm scene… they would find themselves on the same page as Regan!
Defensive to Combative.
The main characters and perhaps, most other surviving humans in this post-apocalyptic scenario are primarily staying alive by ‘protecting’ themselves every step of the way. The family survives purely by escaping, hiding, barring themselves, most importantly staying out-of-sight(hearing)-soundproofing knowing that the opposition is infinitely stronger and agile than them. The parents are mainly defensive. Almost everything they do is intellectually correct in such a survival situation. At least, they try to do their best. They know, they cannot hunt or attack the creature.
Unfortunately, this stance changes. They, especially the father (John) progresses towards being combative. The trigger to this particular change of stance/ survival trait occurs after their new baby is born… when Emily Blunt makes it clear that they are nothing if they cannot protect their kids and makes John promise that he must protect them at any cost. Later in the farm, is when he tries to make a move to be combative and attack the creature with an ax in hopes of doing some damage and saving the kids. In the end, the only thing that ‘truly protects his kids’ is sacrificing himself.
Overall powerful tidbits.
Loved the ‘Point of View’ audio moments throughout the movie. Especially, as it serves such an important narrative meaning, helping to establish certain characters during the early sections of the movie.
Neil Young’s Harvest Moon is without a doubt a perfect choice given the scenario in which it is shared and fits so well with the overall context of the movie! Neil’s vocals truly boosts the aural mood and takes it to a calm, relaxing, intimate and comfortable zone 🙂
The direction, synchronization of audio and masterful editing with transitions during the ‘bathtub scream‘ with rockets flying in the air is perhaps the true solid peak of the movie. It is just so well done! Sound design is super important, especially for any thriller/ horror flicks out there. ‘A Quiet Place’ is a shining example in this case.
This last one might also be a trivia for most readers, as I got to know about this only after watching the movie… Millicent Simmonds, the actor who plays the role of Regan (deaf child) is actually deaf in real life! After knowing this fact, I must admit, my respect for what I saw has easily doubled! Fantastic work!
That’s it folks. Thanks for reading! This movie is now going to be in my ‘favorite list’ of all time 😉 Do comment, discuss and share if you liked this movie too!
My friend of mine, who is a fellow movie connoisseur has posted a pretty great rant on ‘A Quiet Place’! I highly recommend checking it out if you’ve already watched the movie.