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Blu-ray Review: ‘A Quiet Place’

A Quiet Place is a thrilling horror film by director John Krasinski, who also co-wrote the script with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck and stars as Lee, a family patriarch who strives to protect his wife and children from deadly creatures. Although there are a few unbelievable moments used to create suspense, it’s a well-executed story brought to life by a talented cast and crew.

The film opens on Day 89, where we meet the Abbott family who are doing their best not to make any noise while the only people in a local market. The reason for this is because of the danger that results when noises are made. We soon see how dire it is when all who knew better drop their guard. The scene didn’t feel authentic but just a way to show the audience.

The film jumps ahead over a year to Day 472, the family are going about their lives as best and as quietly as they can. They live on a secluded farm, walk outdoors on sand, and rarely speak above a whisper. Evelyn (Emily Blunt) the mother, is now pregnant, which initially seems such a terrible choice, considering the pain of child birth and that crying is the only way a baby has to communicate, but they are resourceful and find ways around it. Regan, the oldest child, is deaf (as is the actress Millicent Simmonds). She carries around guilt from a past mistake and feels disconnected from her father.

Turns out the creature from the prologue, which is blind and hunts through hearing, is one of many that appeared around the world and have killed most of the humans. There are three in the area of the Abbott farm, so Marcus (Noah Jupe) the son, is understandably terrified when his father wants to take him to fish at the river.

A Quiet Place is more than characters trying to survive monsters. The family must unite, overcoming their doubts and fears in order to triumph. The script is very smart at times, creating great unexpected moments for the characters and in the plot, which is why the obvious ones, like setting up a nail in the stairs that’s clearly going to be revisited, are disappointing. In a world where a smart man like Lee, who is constantly tinkering with devices to help his daughter hear and has found a way to soundproof the game Monopoly, really going to leave a nail in the middle of a stair step? Sure, it puts the audience on the edge of their seat and the impact makes them squirm, but it doesn’t stand up to the other moments in the script.

Two other areas of the production that stand out are the sound design team, who get to use silence and low sounds as predominant elements in contrast to most films, and ILM’s visual effects work on the creatures. Not a surprise they get focused on in the special features.

The Blu-ray has been give a 1080p/AVC MPE-4 encode displayed at an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The natural colors of rural New York are captured well by Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s cinematography as are the interiors. Blacks are inky and there’s a strong contrast on display. The image consistently presents great depth and fine texture details.

Audio is available in Dolby Atmos, which played quite well throughout my Onkyo 7.1 surround system. Characters being silent is an integral part of the story, making ambiance in the surrounds more noticeable. Some POV moments of Regan are intentionally muddled or some times completely silent. There’s a wide dynamic range from the soft whispers of characters to the loud screeching of the creatures and explosions.

Special features are: Creating the Quiet – Behind the Scenes of A Quiet Place (HD, 15 min) – Producers, screenwriters, and cast talk about making the film. The Sound of Darkness – Editing Sound for A Quiet Place (HD, 12 min) – Previous subjects, along with sound editing trio, also talk about sound design and the score. A Reason for Silence – The Visual Effects of A Quiet Place (HD, 8 min) – A look at the creation of the creatures with ILM.

A Quiet Place is a wonderful experience, a horror film that cares more about its characters than its creatures, which is why the viewer cares when the Abbotts are in danger. It will surely be remembered when people are making year-end lists. The Blu-ray offers an impressive high-definition experience, including the audio, which may not be expected even though it’s important to the story.

About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS

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