While I’m not a fan of horror movies, I was intrigued enough by “A Quiet Place” to break my “only see scary movies at home where you can fast forward through the worst parts and pull the covers over your head if you have to” rule. It was number one at the box office and people were saying that yes it’s terrifying, but it’s thoughtfully terrifying.
John Krasinski, best known as Jim in “The Office,” directed, co-wrote and stars as Lee Abbott in “A Quiet Place.” His wife, A-lister Emily Blunt, costars as Lee’s wife Evelyn. We meet the couple and their children rummaging through a trashed store in a ravaged and deserted town. We learn, with no dialogue, that it’s Day 89 of living in a world where it’s not safe to make noise. You see there are these gross aliens that are blind but have excellent hearing and will rip you apart if you make a sound. The Abbotts are cautious, but in the first of many plot holes, not cautious enough.
We move forward a year later to the Abbotts’ sprawling farm, where we learn why this family has managed to stay alive while others haven’t. Lee is extremely resourceful, setting up an elaborate alarm system, and communications hub. They walk around barefoot, Evelyn cooks underground without noisy pots, and they eat with their hands. Their children, Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) play Monopoly with felt pieces.
The Abbotts communicate with sign language, not just because they have to, but because Regan is deaf (as is Simmonds). And spoiler alert if you haven’t seen any of the commercials, trailers or talk shows, Evelyn is pregnant. Why would a couple choose to bring a child into this very frightening world where any noise could mean your demise? News flash, babies tend to make noise. It’s kind of explained, but I didn’t buy it. The pregnancy does lead to a scene that is completely terrifying, like squeeze your daughter’s arm way too hard, terrifying, with some phenomenal work from Blunt.
Krasinski the director does some impressive work here in his third film. With so little dialogue, the actors must communicate to each other and to us with their facial expressions and Krasinski is masterful in using close-ups to convey love, anger, acceptance, understanding, and fear, lots of fear. Simmonds is astounding in a couple of scenes that will just break your heart.
When I wasn’t holding my breath watching “A Quiet Place,” I was asking myself, silently of course, a lot of questions which I won’t mention here because they might spoil your enjoyment of the movie. But I’m going to let Krasinski slide. “A Quiet Place” is frightening, but the violence is brief and often takes place off screen. It’s rated PG-13 and not R, unusual for modern day horror films. The audience was so quiet that you could hear a Junior Mint drop. And the movie clocks in at a compact 90-minutes for which Amanda is very grateful. If I had to watch “A Quiet Place” for much longer I would have been a wreck and Emma’s arm would be black and blue.
A Quiet Place - 4½ Stars
This past week, Comcast/Xfinity provided viewers with a “Watchathon” where we could binge on as much premium TV as we wanted to for seven days. I think I did a fine job of overindulging, but without question, the best thing I saw was “The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling,” on HBO. The 2018 two-episode, documentary, is a labor of love for director/producer Judd Apatow, who feels he owes his career to Shandling. I was a huge fan of Shandling’s stand-up and watched both his landmark TV series, “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” and the even better “The Larry Sanders Show.” Old home movies, footage of early stand-up appearances and TV shows, interviews with Shandling and dozens of celebrities, friends and families provide an exhaustive and fascinating look at the comedian/actor who died in 2016 at 66 of a heart attack. But Apatow also shares pages of Shandling’s diaries and notes that offers insight into Shandling’s insecurities, spirituality and the emotional toll of his high-profile lawsuit against his former agent Brad Grey. Apatow rightly considers Shandling a comedy genius but also acknowledges his mentor’s occasionally petty behavior and unusual career choices. Don’t miss it.