On this episode of Fresh Films, the guys debate whether it is ethical to bring children into a world where monsters will hunt and kill you if you make a sound. Spoiler alert: It isn't, but Krasinski and Blunt do it anyway.
[“Don’t Speak” - No Doubt]
Marco Cartolano: You know I’ve heard more than one person call this movie The Quiet Place. It’s A Quiet Place. When you call it The Quiet Place, it suggests that this is one quiet place, that there is the solitary quiet place. There are multiple quiet places.
Marcus Galeano: I have a bit of a counterpoint to that, which I believe is of most importance, and that is, who gives a shit?
Elliot Kronsberg: That’s a solid point, Marco.
Marcus: I know.
Elliot: Alright, so we’re Fresh Films. We see new movies in Evanston. I’m Elliot Kronsberg.
Marcus I’m Marcus Galeano.
Marco: I’m Marco Cartolano.
Elliot: Today we’re talking about A Quiet Place, the new film directed by and starring John Krasinski.
Marcus: And written by.
Elliot: He took a script that already existed and… I mean he’s got a credit, so he made a significant contribution.
Marco: This film stars Krasinski. It stars his real life wife—
Elliot: ...Emily Blunt, and also Millicent Simmonds, who we last saw in Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck.
Marco: So this came as a bit of a surprise for a lot of people because John Krasinski’s most well known as Jim from The Office. He’s only directed a few other, more comedic films. And it kind of a came out a month or so in advance that this movie was coming out, and there was already a bit of hype about it because the concept interested a lot of people. That it was this world where monsters will eat you alive if they hear you, so you have to be super silent all the time.
Elliot: Which I gotta say, it doesn’t quite make sense. It doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny.
Marcus: The thing about this film is that it takes time to examine all these little sources of noise that you subconsciously make without even thinking about it. And it accounts for them in the film. But in accounting for all these things, it raises more questions about other things that could potentially make sound. And it sort of is like this ouroboros loop of the snake eating itself.
Elliot: For example, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt have several kids in the film, and you gotta think, kids make noises when they’re young. When they’re babies, they cry, they laugh. How do you stop something like that?
Marcus: They sneeze
Elliot: They sneeze.
Marcus: People sneeze.
Elliot: They account for things like dropping something on the ground and it making a noise…
Marcus: Footsteps and...
Elliot: Sneezing’s a big one. I forgot about sneezing, but it goes along with all the other things I was saying. It’s something you can’t really stop. Or like coughing. Coughing would be another one. And they never really explain that in the film.
Marco: While I think that those are sort of logical liberties that the movie expects you to take with it, there is one aspect to it that is just...makes them seem kind of stupid in that the wife is pregnant, and it’s established that the baby was conceived during the reign of the monsters. So they just added a child, someone that’s capable of making so much noise…
Elliot: Basically what we’re saying, while they were on the run from the monsters, these two fucked and I mean they could have fucked once and had the baby, but more than likely, they were looking to replace another child, so they tried for that baby.
Marcus: That also makes noise, and you got the two kids to account for. So much logistics of procreation. One thing – are we going to just spoil how the monsters are defeated or not or it doesn’t matter?
Elliot: Doesn’t matter. I mean, we can.
Marcus: Alright, so basically the way the monsters are defeated is that if you create a sound at a high enough frequency and amplify it slightly, the skin of the monsters is peeled back because it’s all made of weird ears, which I think is an interesting creature design and it’s kind of compelling in it’s own little way. But the deaf child’s cochlear implant enables the skin to peel back and Emily Blunt shoots it in the face with a shotgun, and it’s dead. The logic enough being that I guess maybe the skin would be too thick to penetrate with normal bullets. But then like couldn’t you just use other means to penetrate it with normal bullets. Like, couldn’t you use a rocket to kill it or an artillery shell and kill it?
Elliot: Where are you going to get a rocket or artillery shell?
Marcus: Well, the military probably have them and it’s been a year and a half since the outbreak started – or not the outbreak, the reign of the monsters.
Elliot: Kind of an outbreak I mean we don’t really know where they came from.
Marcus: I actually like that element. I like the mystery of it. I assume they’re aliens.
Elliot: That makes sense. That’s what I thought.
Marco: So I do think there’s a lot of it that’s actually really good. I think it’s a very compelling setup for a film that creates a lot of natural suspense that is handled very well by John Krasinski as a director. Also the film has some very intense scenes. In particular there is a scene with Emily Blunt and the monster and the fact that she is close to giving birth that is really effective and very well constructed.
Marcus: The conceit of this movie enables great tension just on its own. And I haven’t seen Krasinski’s other work, but the directing job is pretty solid here. Enough to make do with the premise and use it effectively as a storytelling method. But there are a bunch of logistical problems. I’d say it’s extremely effective at what it does, but it’s a very visceral thing and when you open it up to scrutiny it doesn’t hold up as much. I still like it, I recommend it.
Elliot: I agree but I think it’s always nice to have original science fiction films because we’re so inundated with the superhero movies and the dystopian young adult novel adaptations. So it’s always nice to have an original sci-fi horror film.
Marco: I guess it’s nice that they have an actual deaf actress play the daughter.
Marcus: I thought that was cool.
Elliot: I was just thinking about that. I liked her a lot in Wonderstruck. I thought she was kind of annoying in this film. I think it was just her characterization.
Marcus: Yeah, the sort of emotional crux of her character, it doesn’t really endear herself to the audience if that makes any sense. I know what the resolution will be to that before it even fucking starts, and it’s not that compelling. So why do I care.
This film really reminds me of It Comes at Night, and I think It Comes at Night is pound for pound a better film. But, that had its flaws too. If you combine the best parts of those two movies, you would have a masterclass horror film.
Elliot: I really liked It Comes at Night, but the marketing campaign for that film—
Marcus: Oh it was abysmal.
Elliot: No one knew what it was about.
Marco: I feel that A Quiet Place is so much more of a mainstream, palatable film…
Marcus: ...Than It Comes at Night.
Marco: Because it has this not-gruesome imagery – It’s really PG-13. I think that this as a film is clearly a more accessible, less graphic sort of horror film that can be rated PG-13 and can be enjoyed by middle and high schoolers, and it’s really solid and good and above average for those types of films. However, I’m more of a complex, gruesome horror person or a...I’m one of those dorks that’s for the artsy horror shit too.
Elliot: Hell, it beats Truth or Dare.
[“Harvest Moon” – Neil Young]
Marco: Alright let’s move on to our final thoughts. Marcus, what did you think?
Marcus: I think it’s a very effective horror film that makes good use of its premise. But is undone somewhat by a few character arcs that don’t quite work for me on an emotional level, and some of the logistical problems. It doesn’t have a lot of rewatch value, I don’t think. But in a theater setting where everyone’s quiet –if they’ll ever be quiet, actually mine were fairly respectful – I think you’ll have a good time. I recommend it. ...Elliot?
Elliot: I enjoyed the film quite a bit. I heard a lot of hype going into it. And I’m not sure if it lives up to the hype because it is just another pretty good film. The monsters, I thought were really cool. The premise is very interesting. Again the logic, doesn’t always hold up but, Krasinski, Blunt, Simmonds and Jupe all do a pretty good job. It’s something that you should see once, at least. And I think in all the options that we have of things to see, it’s one of the better ones, especially among original horror films. What about you Marco?
Marco: So this is, I think, going to be the big mainstream horror film of the year, the one that everyone’s going to see. I think that for a more accessible horror film, it’s really pretty effective. It has some great scenes. It has a premise that builds up a lot of tension. It’s well directed. Some of the internal logic doesn’t really make that much sense, and I don’t think some of the music was used pretty effectively. Sometimes it was really unsubtle. But, if you are someone who’s not really into horror films, this won’t be that bad for you, and if you are someone that’s maybe looking to get into horror film this is an ok start. But see You Were Never Really Here.
Elliot: I heartily agree with that. Lynne Ramsay is an amazing filmmaker, and this definitely lives up to her previous work.
Elliot: So this has been Fresh Films from NBN audio. You can find us online in the audio section of NBN and on Apple Podcasts. Go ahead and hit that subscribe button.
Marcus: Smash that motherfuckin' like button.
Elliot: You can go ahead and hit that subscribe button to automatically get our next episode as soon as it's released. This has been Elliot Kronsberg.
Marcus: Marcus Galeano.
Marco: And Marco Cartolano.
Elliot: See ya.
[Reprise - “Don’t Speak”]