I remember when I saw A Quiet Place in theaters how impressed I was by the storytelling, up to a point; the setup of acts one and two is pretty darned impressive, but the third act and particularly the ending seems like one where for lack of any other options, the easiest was chosen. Which was fine, because on the whole it's a good movie. Should there be another one of these? I dunno, but we're about to find out, and as you do, revisiting the first film is in order.
John Krasinski (The Office) co-wrote the screenplay with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck (Haunt), as well as directed and co-starred in it. He plays Lee, the husband and head of family in the not too distant future next to his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt, Sherlock Gnomes), who is also the expectant mother of his latest child. They are living in a moderately dystopian world where if you make noise, a type of creature will find and kill you. So he does what he can to keep the family unit moving while mourning the loss of his son at the hands of one of the creatures.
On films like this, you have the patriarch, or whomever that equivalent would be, having a brave chin and guiding the more emotionally ambiguous that gather around him following whatever direction he gives out. A Quiet Place is different, in that Lee does not have that role, nor does he want it. He wants to keep his family safe as much as he can, and does not show the bravado, he just wants safety for his wife and his kids. That also means he is prone to error, to the point where it puts some of them at risk. Krasinski handles this role well, it is sensitive and caring, it is passing along information that he knows, and does not show weakness around his kids; he does show tenderness to Blunt (as he should!) when he has the chance to let his guard down, particularly as the two dance to Neil Young to a quietly poignant moment in the film.
Along with his weaker(?) moments, his children contrast themselves with moments of strength that are beyond his faculties. His oldest, daughter Regan (Milicent Simmonds, Wonderstruck) is riddled with guilt but handles the perceptions of her father with her own feelings marvelously, his next oldest, son Marcus (Noah Jupe, Ford v Ferrari), is a mediator of sorts between Regan and Lee. Not a formal or even a habitual one, but he has his own moments of vulnerability (heck, they ALL do!), but both kids help prop up Lee nicely in the film and their performances are welcome surprises.
For as good as the film is, it is the ending that still bothers me now two years after the film came out. In a way it is almost like Signs, where any foray into substantial closure could have been seen as a cheat of some sort, so there was reliance on ‘The Elements' to close things out. And I think that is what bugs me about the film still. When I saw it I liked it, and I still like it now, but the way it decided to go out felt a little too arbitrary, which cheated people who liked it most of all.
So while A Quiet Place remains a soft-spoken, impressive effort, the film's positive qualities still hold up a couple of years after the fact, but its negative ones also do, and I cannot help but think a pleasantly encouraging first attempt is going to be undermined somehow by a convoluted and disappointing sequel. Maybe not!The UHD:
I don't know if the 4K presentation of A Quiet Place is the same one from the initial July 2018 release, but this looks pretty darned good. The exteriors get the most justice from the film, with greens, yellows and oranges standing out nicely against a backdrop of impressive depth and detail. The opening moments of the film of flaked paint on traffic lights come through impressively, and image detail within faces and clothing remains impressive after a couple of years. I did not watch the accompanying Blu-ray, nor have I watched the film since its theatrical run, but the 4K was pretty nice.The Sound:
The Dolby Atmos track is up to the task as well; given that the film does not have a lot to do, when it does have to hit moments (like the despondent widower, or the opening moments of the film), it handles them well and creates a sense of dread or surprise that is palpable. What little dialogue there is sounds natural and clean, and monster effects roar through channels and occasionally provide a low end that results in a clean listening experience.Extras:
You get three extras on here (all on the Blu-ray disc), starting with "Creating the Quiet" (14:45), which is the making-of for the film, where the first thoughts on the story from the cast are shared and Krasinski discusses his approach to the direction of the film and in getting his wife to join the cast. He shares his thoughts on the cast and they share their thoughts on the story and roles, and the adults share their thoughts on the kids, who carry a bulk of the film. It is a quick and quietly impressive piece. Next is "The Sound of Darkness" (11:44), which looks at the sound design of the film and the power of silence in it and on set. The pros and cons of shooting on a quiet set are shown and the intent for shooting that way is also touched on. "A Reason for Silence" (7:33) looks at the visual effects and monster creation for the feature, and Krasinski shares his wisdom on that. The Blu-ray disc and a digital/iTunes compatible copy of the film are included as well. This all comes in a near-transparent slipcover and Mondo steel book packaging that looks nice aesthetically.Final Thoughts:
A Quiet Place remains one of the better horror films of the last few years for its story (yes, ending aside), its characters and the tenderness and fallacies they show within a barely 90-minute runtime. Technically, the 4K disc is pretty great, but not a dealbreaker, and the extras remain a little underwhelming, even as the theatrical release of Part II comes out. If you need a version to acquaint yourself with before seeing Part II, this is the one to see, and the steel book packaging may sway you to buy it.