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By midlandsmovies, Aug 12 2018 07:00AM

A Quiet Place (2018) Dir. John Krasinski

Set in the year 2020 where the population has been decimated by an unknown but deadly foe, a family attempts to stay alive in A Quiet Place – the directorial debut of The Office’s John Krasinski.

The film introduces us to the Abbott family which comprises of Lee (Krasinki), his pregnant wife Evelyn (Krasinki’s real-life partner Emily Blunt) and their deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and son Marcus (Noah Jupe). We are shown how youngest son Beau is killed by creatures which hunt by sound after he plays with a noisy toy given to him by his sister and, as we jump forward many years, the guilt still plays on her mind.

Very quickly establishing the rules of the world, the creatures are hyper-sensitive to noise yet the family are safe if a louder sounds masks their clamouring. All the while Lee attempts to contact potential survivors by radio but even the smallest clatter sends the family into a panic as they survive as pilgrims using what they can scavenge from abandoned shops and the surrounding forest.

Given sound plays such a prominent part in the film – or a lack of – the film is almost entirely without spoken dialogue and uses subtitles and a mix of sign-language to convey the expressive communication between the family members. Krasinski therefore demonstrates fantastic cinematic flair to create images, sequences and development all without verbal cues.

Action scenes are built to a crescendo of tension as the absence of sound focuses the audience on the tiniest of details. And in one particular scene, just an upturned nail on a stair. When a foot inevitably comes to stand on said rusty protrusion the slow accumulation of dread is what makes A Quiet Place so engaging. But the film doesn’t let up with all this pressure. The arrival of a nearby creature sees Blunt’s wife suddenly go into labour and we’re thrown into another life or death sequence.

Millicent Simmonds, who is deaf in real life, is excellent as the troubled but resourceful youngster and is involved in another nerve-wracking scene atop a grain silo where noise, suffocation and nail-biting terror continue the remarkable twitchy sequences. Her scenes also have their sound removed which puts a greater focus on the visual elements whilst the alien creatures’ clicking mixes a bat’s echolocation with insectoid creepy crawly effectiveness.

With echoes of 2016’s horror-stalker film HUSH, A Quiet Place also uses sound brilliantly as we are sometimes thrust into the situation alongside our characters – whilst also being aware of sounds they are not. Krasinski brings his strong everyman persona to a father who risks everything to protect his children yet his technical expertise in managing diegetic sound with a cinematic score is masterfully balanced as to keep viewers right on the edge of their seat.

The unique creature design uses hard plates with muscular appendages and (mostly) avoids the bland Cloverfield-style computer game horde style of a Chitauri warrior. Which give them real menace even when finally revealed up close. But it’s the tremendous performances from the entire clan who give believability and emotion to what could be standard b-movie scares than really engages.

People have compared this to previous annual horror highlights The Witch and The Babadook but A Quiet Place’s style is far more accessible than those. It harks back to the visual language of early cinema so well it has an almost universal appeal.

Mostly avoiding jump scares, the real silent success is Krasinski himself who has taken an original idea and created a script and debut film with hugely entertaining results. Throwing in scenes of real anxiety, unease and boldness, Krasinski’s virtuoso film uses each of these elements to create a satisfying blend that delights but has more than its share of frights.


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Oct 10 2016 02:23PM

The Girl on the Train (2016) Dir. Tate Taylor

Having not read the book I came in cold to this adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ novel which stars Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow) as alcoholic Rachel Watson. She rides the train to New York each day half-remembering her drunken past whilst viewing the idyllic neighbourhood she once lived in before her split from her husband.

Her dreamy drink-infused recollections mix with her anger and self-destructiveness as she attempts to cope with the loss of the life she once had. At the same time she views another seemingly happy couple - Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett) – who she passes each day and admires their romantic liaisons on their balcony from the train's windows.

With her ex-husband (Justin Theroux) now shacked up with the woman he cheated with (Anna - played by Rebecca Ferguson) Rachel uses her anger to try and protect others' fidelity. Her intrigue is peaked when she sees Megan appearing to cosy up with her psychiatrist Dr. Kamal Abdic (Édgar Ramírez) instead of her partner. Attempting to get involved with a subject close to her heart, her alcoholic black outs leave her unable to remember how she got home with injuries on her head. When Megan disappears, the gaps in her memory make her a suspect along with the men involved in Megan's life.

Without saying too much more, the film is an effective dark thriller shown in a flashback format and Blunt’s central performance is what anchors the movie. Her distant looks combined with slurred speech and bouts of outrageous behaviour are a seedy joy to watch and she is helped by a great cast of supporting actors.

Haley Bennett and Rebecca Ferguson complete a triumvirate of talented actresses projecting confidence, frailty and natural emotions alongside the more brutish performances from the male threesome of Theroux, Evans and Ramirez. The complex plot sees accusations pointing at all parties whilst a smattering of morbid themes, bleak violence and clandestine encounters made it a sleazy pleasure. The score is also great with low bass sounds invoking lurking terrors and I was even more shocked this came from Danny Elfman whose familiar traits are unrecognisable here.

The pacing was great with information slowly given to the audience that mirrored Blunt’s alcoholic-fused recollections whilst Allison Janney as Detective Sgt. Riley and Lisa Kudrow as Martha were small but great additions to the cast.

With dream-like sequences helping the audience fill in the gaps, the filmmaker keeps viewers guessing along with Blunt and this effective style allowed the narrative to develop organically like an unreliable eyewitness.

At times it fell into melodrama but overall The Girl on the Train stays on track to deliver an effective mystery thriller with superb performances and a decadent tale of deceit and dishonesty.


Midlands Movies Mike

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