A Quiet Place



Cineworld, Edinburgh

It was clear before 65 even arrived that something was amiss with this project. Two planned release dates were swiftly abandoned, as though the project were seeking a landing at a time when not much else was happening cinema-wise. On paper, the premise sounds good. Adam Driver versus dinosaurs? What could possibly go wrong?

From the get-go, 65 requires viewers to accept a pretty unlikely set-up – that somewhere in the universe, sixty-five million years ago, a planet existed where the inhabits looked human, acted human and some of them even spoke perfect English. This is by no means a spoiler, it’s spelled out in text in the film’s opening moments. Mills (Driver) is a spaceship pilot, who has recently been charged with the task of heading up a two-year mission (we’re never given any of the details of what he’s expected to achieve out there). He’s agreed to leave his – everyday sexism alert! – un-named wife (Nika King) and his daughter, Nevine (Chloe Coleman), back on his home planet because the latter is suffering from an unspecified illness and Mills will now be earning triple his usual wages, which will no doubt pay for all those pesky hospital bills.

A year or so later, he’s travelling through space in a ship that’s also carrying a group of anonymous passengers in suspended animation (again we’re not trusted with an explanation for this), when a sudden meteor strike sends the ship hurtling towards an unknown planet. Mills survives the subsequent crash, along with a nine-year-old girl, Koa (Ariana Greenblatt). Now the two of them must somehow make their way to the ship’s escape pod, which is inconveniently stranded on top of a mountain.

The planet? It’s Earth. And it’s heavily populated by dinosaurs…

The term ‘stripped-back’ has never felt more appropriate – and, while the set-up strains credulity, it’s simply and effectively done. But once Mills and Koa are installed on this hostile planet, the film has nothing left but a series of frantic chases as our two heroes are pursued hither and thither by a bunch of scaly co-stars with no higher ambition than to eat their visitors. While the film looks great (the scenes shot in the Florida Everglades are particularly eye-catching), the inevitable result is monotony.

Attempts to vary things up are mostly centred around Mill’s recorded memories of his daughter – though, curiously there are none of his wife. (Did they fall out? We don’t know!) I am asked to suspend my disbelief every time a miraculous event saves Mills and Koa, allowing them to escape apparently certain death by a hair’s breadth. Written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, who created the superior A Quiet Place, I can’t help feeling that at some point there must have been a lot more information built into this film, cut out piece-by-piece after successive test screenings, perhaps. This may account for the finished movie’s relatively lean running time, and I suspect that, somewhere in the archives, there’s a director’s cut, which features a lot more information than we’re offered here.

It’s by no means a terrible film. The dinosaurs are decently rendered in CGI and I’m genuinely excited by the first attack – but, by the seventh or eighth, I find myself looking at my watch, wondering when I’ll be able to achieve escape velocity.

2. 8 stars

Philip Caveney

A Quiet Place


It’s hard in this day and age to come up with a completely original idea for a film, but writer/director John Krasinski has certainly engineered a refreshing twist on a much-used idea with A Quiet Place.

The action takes place in an alternative America, one that has been overrun – not by zombies, or a raging epidemic – but by predatory alien creatures. And yes, I’ll grant you, this still doesn’t sound like something you haven’t already seen many times before. The creatures are never named and we are given no information about where they came from or how they rose to power. This is entirely deliberate and I love the fact that the filmmakers judge us capable of joining the dots on this. The aliens are completely blind and apparently have no sense of smell, but what they do have is highly developed hearing. Which means that, if you’re hoping to stay alive in this world, everything must be done in absolute silence. And I mean everything.

In the film’s powerful opening, we meet the Abbott family, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), her husband, Lee (Krasinski), and their three children, one of whom, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), is completely deaf and therefore has even more worries than the others, since she isn’t always aware when she’s actually making a noise. The family have ventured out of their remote house in search of medical supplies. We learn very quickly how complex this new world is. The family go everywhere barefoot, walking along trails of pre-laid sand, because even the sound of a breaking twig can spell doom for them. They have developed their own sign-language, their own way of doing ordinary household duties. And, as they quickly learn to their cost, battery-powered toys are not a good thing to pick up on their travels.

From this point, the film moves on in time. Evelyn is now pregnant. And of course, giving birth to a child really isn’t the quietest process in the world…

What we’re watching here, is, to all intents and purposes, a silent movie – and, as the film leaps nimbly from one incredibly tense sequence to the next,  it’s this very quality that allows Krasinki to wrack the tension up to almost unbearable levels. And that’s what feels so fresh about this idea, so effective. This, by the way,  is definitely a film to be watched with an audience. It won’t be anything like as suspenseful when you’re sitting at home, with the option of breaking for a coffee whenever things become a bit too stressful. In a cinema, there’s a palpable tension as the audience suffers in collective silence along with the Abbots – particularly with Evelyn, who goes through several levels of personal hell in this.

A word of warning. Don’t be the person gleefully chomping your way through a big tub of popcorn as the drama unfolds – not unless you want to be the most hated person in the cinema. My phone, which was switched to ‘vibrate only,’ went off in the middle of this and managed to sound to my startled ears like an express train thundering through an abandoned station.

A Quiet Place is, in many ways, a small film – a tiny cast, a couple of locations and a relatively short running time, which seems to positively sprint by – but it leaves a powerful impression. Hear that noise as you leave the cinema? It’s the sound of the entire audience letting out a breath of relief.

This is highly recommended viewing – and it’s quietly feminist too – though possibly not the ideal film to watch if you happen to be pregnant.

Just saying.

4.6 stars

Philip Caveney