Emily Blunt seems to think a silent alien invasion is the perfect time to give birthPARAMOUNT PICTURES

To be swept away by it all is the greatest hope for the film-lover; to poke merrily at the proverbial hornet’s nest the prerogative of the critic. A Quiet Place, teetering so endearingly as it does on the bounds of plausibility, incites us to both stances in equal measure. This begins with its premise: a race of extra-terrestrial creatures that hunt exclusively by sound invade the earth. Make anything more than the slightest of peeps and you’re a goner. When most of the human population has already been wiped out, one family struggles silently to survive. 

It is arguably easy to find fault with the arbitrary ways in which the laws of this world are established, or in the contrived manner by which these laws derive tension. There is a prominent sequence, for example, where every awful thing imaginable does indeed happen to the matriarch Evelyn, with one scream-inducing disaster following ceaselessly on from another. The family, which has stuck together faithfully thus far, is nowhere to be found. Poor old mum goes into labour (one also questions why they thought now would be a good time to bring a yowling baby into the world). Finally, in a frantic rush to find her family, Evelyn has the misfortune of stepping squarely on the point of an enormous iron nail. 

Trailer for A Quiet PlacePARAMOUNT PICTURES

Yet the peculiar power of this scene, and indeed A Quiet Place as a whole, is that we readily forgive its indiscretions. In fact, it never even occurs to us that there is anything to forgive at all. The entire cast, led by Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, who also directs with an assured and stylish hand, is to be commended for the authenticity which they bring to their roles. But it is the film’s masterful sound design that truly makes A Quiet Place. From the opening scene, we enter a world of eerie silence, such that the rolling of dice on a Monopoly board induces dread and whispered words of comfort a rare poignancy.


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How many times have we seen our heroes stand breathlessly in the dark, willing themselves into deathly quiet in order to survive? The originality of A Quiet Place lies in its skilful, at times even playful, manipulation of one of the surest arrows in the cinematic quiver: silence. And one can certainly take the film for what it purports to be – a jolly fun ride through the perils of an alien invasion. But when the lights go up, and – clocking in at a slick 95 minutes – those lights will be up before you know, it is its emotional and reflective heart that remains with you.

The film provides not merely a glimpse into an alien world, but also a means to understanding our own everyday reality. At once naïve and knowing, ironic and sincerely tender, A Quiet Place refracts our innermost fears and hopes, magnifying the terrors that lurk all round us and inspiring in us a defiance to live, and to live for each other.

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