Arts & Leisure

“A Quiet Place” makes a great sound

JOHN KRASINSKI plays a father trying to keep his family alive after evil aliens invade the Earth in “A Quiet Place” (Paramount Pictures).

By Jim Tortolano

For the last generation or two, the horror movie business has been stuck in a nightmare of its own making: a “Groundhog Day” of clueless people hanging out in spooky houses and going down into the basement while the few thinking people in the audience think (or shout) “don’t do it!”

Then along came “Get Out!,” Jordan Peele’s socially conscious scarefest. And now we have “A Quiet Place,” which re-introduces deft acting, writing and cinematography into a genre from which they have long been missing. “The Shining,” anyone?

“A Quiet Place,” in which John Krasinski (Jim from “The Office”) directed, co-wrote the screenplay and played the lead role, is a gem of its category, raising the bar above the tired traditions of horror. We can expect a fistful of imitations but also more outstanding work from someone once just admired for being likable on a sitcom.

The premise is somewhat familiar, with intriguing twists. Ugly, mean, fast, tough and blind aliens have conquered the Earth ­– or at least one part of it. Among the few survivors is the Abbott family, three children and their parents: father Lee (Krasinski), his real-life wife and the mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt).

Since the aliens are blinder than a bat, it’s safe to move around during the day as long as you make almost no noise … nothing above the quietest of whispers. To communicate, they use American Sign Language.

In this horrific world, the Abbott family members make themselves a new normal of exceptional caution and discipline, until something goes wrong.

After that turn of events, Evelyn goes into labor prematurely, triggering hair-raising and breath-holding on your part and mine.

Too many more details will likely spoil the climax and conclusion. However, even though this is an excellent movie, it’s still a Hollywood movie and you get your sweet along with the bitter in a satisfying conclusion.

Stepping back a bit, this is one of the best scary films of its type in many years. Sure, we never get to find out the whys and wherefores of the aliens, but neither do our characters. Despite the violence, this movie holds engagingly to the idea of family love and attachment, and not in a cloying way.

Special attention should go to Millicent Simmonds, as the eldest child Regan, who is deaf in the film and in real life. She communicates more with her face and body language than some can with a volume of Shakespeare.

Skeptics, myself included, can probably poke a few holes in the plot, especially regarding the near-invulnerability of the monsters but that’s sort of beside the point.

With Jordan and John now, we have at least two new stars in the horror genre that might be able to lift it out of the slasher sewer. The possibilities suggested by “A Quiet Place” are so great, they’re scary.

“A Quiet Place” is rated PG-13 for tension, scary scenes and science-fiction violence.

 

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