The best pure horror film in years has been released and it's time to talk about it
In a word, superb.
There's no denying that 2017 was a memorable year for the horror genre as IT and the Oscar-nominated Get Out were box-office behemoths. This being said, for every impressive review and accolade, there was a noticeable disconnect between what the critics said and what some horror fans felt.
Granted, every film is subjective and no opinion is gospel but despite the quality of last year's offerings, I was left wanting more. For example, here's my take on:
Get Out - Excellent film that depicts the very real horrors of racism but even Peele himself has said that he wouldn't define it as an 'out and out' horror film because it also has very strong satirical, comedic and thriller elements.
IT - It might be an unpopular opinion but I found that the story was more interesting when Pennywise wasn't on screen. Also, the violence and gore went far too cartoonish at times - the dancing Pennywise at the end, anyone? - and while some of the scares were good, it lacked the psychological menace and creepiness of the original miniseries.
It Comes at Night - Excellent character piece and dripping in atmosphere. Very light on the scares and setpieces though.
Mother! - Very good first half that kept me intrigued. Completely lost the run of itself in the second half. Decent neck break though.
For horror fans, I'd highly recommend the likes of Green Room, Let The Right One In, Kill List, The Strangers, You're Next, Sinister, The Conjuring, It Follows, Raw, Don't Breathe and countless others, but A Quiet Place, in my opinion, is the best horror experience at the cinema since the triple whammy of The Mist, The Orphanage and REC were released in 2007/08. Here's why.
1) It's hauntingly original.
It's arguable that no other genre descends into cliche as much as horror does. Hell, we all know the rules of horror by now and while nobody goes into a film expecting the worst, there's only so many different spins that you can put on the creepy doll, slasher, home invasion, serial killer, demonic possession etc story.
A Quiet Place is different because as soon as you hear the premise, you'll instantly think to yourself 'that's so clever. Why wasn't that made before?' The film revolves around a family of four that must navigate their lives in silence. Why? Well, if anyone makes a noise, horrific creatures that hunt by sound will instantly attack and kill. Simply put, if they hear you, they hunt you.
Don't Breathe did something similar, A Quiet Place took the idea and perfected it.
The premise is excellent and the feature is effectively a silent film throughout, but in doing so, it creates a sense of communal tension in the cinema. This isn't a film that you can casually pass the time by watching, A Quiet Place draws you in and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Much like Dunkirk or any massive blockbuster, this is a film that needs to be seen in the cinema. Yes, there are plot holes but they're so easily overlooked because A Quiet Place is so incredibly immersive. After 15 mins, you completely buy into this post-apocalyptic world and its rules of survival.
In terms of reference points, imagine the unbearable tension of Jaws mixed with the best adrenaline-pumping setpieces of Jurassic Park. Nothing is safe and there's not even a brief moment when the audience can relax. Prepare to have your nerves shredded but you'll be immersed in the ride.
2) It has something to say.
Ironically, in a film where nobody should speak, A Quiet Place raises its voice by tapping into a haunting reality for every parent, how can you protect your children in a world that's brimming with unstoppable danger? Much like every great horror film, you care for these characters because the weight of loss, suffering and fear is etched on every inch of their face - even more impressive considering the fact that dialogue is kept to a minimum throughout. Krasinski makes an incredibly bold narrative choice in the first 15 minutes and that sets the tone for the entire film.
It also helps that his real-life wife Emily Blunt - an actress that excels in any genre (Sicario, Edge of Tomorrow, The Devil Wears Prada, The Five Year Engagement) - gives an incredibly strong performance that should put her up there with the finest female characters in horror history. There's genuine human emotion on offer here and when the horrific threat arrives - and it arrives in a big way - you genuinely care for these characters thus increasing the tension levels tenfold.
3) It understands the golden rule of horror.
Things are always scarier in your head and rather than go balls-to-the-wall in a hail of blood and guts, A Quiet Place is happy to build the tension to a point where you'll have no fingernails left. It's refreshing to see that the CGI is used sparingly and as for the monsters themselves, you'll definitely remember them.
The most effective setpieces though rely on the fact that nobody can make a noise and while the monsters stalk, lurk and pray, you'll be feeling like your chest has tightened up. Also, the fact that dialogue is kept to a minimum, there's no needless exposition or 'fill in the blanks' scenes.
This is pure cinema and it's pure horror. After seeing A Quiet Place, you might want to shout about it from the rooftops.