Release Date(s)2018 (April 6, 2018)
Studio(s)Platinum Dunes/Sunday Night (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: D
A Quiet Place is a movie I want to reward for its relative originality and cleverness. Instead of yet another cookie-cutter zombie apocalypse, we get a different “something”-pocalypse, that something being a cabal of beasts who respond violently to sound. Any noise at too high a decibel level attracts these creatures, and they violently dismember whatever being emitted it. Add to this a very strong theme of family, and the roles parents play as protectors of their children, and you have a pretty good premise for a slightly more thoughtful take on the genre.
Which is what makes it really sad that ultimately I found this movie to be shallow, manipulative, and frustratingly inconsistent in its application of the premise.
On the plus side, there are many clever, even daring touches. Having so little dialogue is really daring, and using the sound design to amp up tension as a result is quite effective. The way the family navigates the nearby town is clever and interesting, as are the signaling and diversionary tactics set up by the father in case of emergency. There were a number of extremely effective “tension set pieces” that worked while they were on screen, such as the mother’s childbirth sequence.
But there is so much dumb stuff here as well. First is the glaringly obvious setup, telegraphed by a whiteboard in the father’s lair – “Creature: Blind, Attack Sound, Armor. Survive: Medical Supplies, Sound Proofing. What is the WEAKNESS?” Yeesh. Look, I know you’ve painted yourself into a corner in terms of exposition without spoken dialogue, but would this guy really leave these completely uninstructive items scrawled onto a whiteboard? Doesn’t he have anything more useful to himself (albeit less useful to a viewer) to write there?
The rules of this premise are all over the place. Apparently, putting a twin mattress over your basement’s opening is enough soundproofing to keep these creatures away. Why in the hell isn’t every opening in the house covered in this way, then? Just what decibel level is necessary to trip the monster, here? Sound diminishes in intensity exponentially as distance increases. So if these beings can hear the dice from a board game from a mile away, is there really any level of soundproofing that could be effective? Also, the very notion that parents could effectively silence children under the age of, say, ten, for any significant stretch of time, completely beggars belief. I’ve got two of them, I can tell you this with a degree of certainty approaching the metaphysical.
Worse than any head-scratching inconsistency is what I consider to be a strain of very manipulative storytelling. I don’t want to spoil the first “shock” or the ending, so I will only say that the fates of particular characters seem designed only to make the viewer upset and thereby enhance “drama,” as opposed to serving any actual illuminating function in the story.
I was thoroughly engaged by the story while it was playing. I don’t know that I would ever watch it again, though, as I ended up feeling annoyed and betrayed more than I felt engaged and dazzled. But of course, your mileage may vary. There are novel thrills to be had here, and if that is primarily what you are chasing, this may do it for you. It’s just not what I’m after as a sci-fi fan who is relatively indifferent to “horror” per se.
Now, with all that said, I do not have any such criticism for the video presentation here. This movie was shot on 35mm Kodak Vision 3 film, which is well known for its pin sharp detail, light grain structure, and deep blacks. All are on ample display here. Presented in the original 2.39:1 aspect ratio and minted from a 2K digital intermediate, the 4K disc presents a noticeable (albeit not stunning) upgrade in detail and color from the included 1080p Blu-Ray disc. Day-lit scenes of the deserted town show excellent detail in store windows, foliage, and signs. There are many interior scenes shot with natural light and deep shadows, and both detail near black and contrast are exceptional. The disc is graded for Dolby Vision HDR. HDR makes itself apparent in shots with sunlight, showing very strong dynamic range and contrast. Color is thoroughly realistic and stable throughout. All in all, this is a modern 2018 production through and through – it may not be a demo disc that you reach for to show off your gear, but it is completely realistic from top to bottom.
Perhaps not surprisingly, this is a very quiet movie. It is presented with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, which might seem odd at first, but actually makes a lot of sense when considering how important positional audio and ambient sound is to the plot. Surround channels get a constant, if light, workout as they indicate the soundscape of the world. The wind rushes, water flows, grass rustles in the breeze. When things do get loud, it is jarringly effective, and mixed well.
Extras are all housed on the included 1080p Blu-Ray disc. All are typical EPK fluff, totaling less than a half hour all told. The lack of a commentary is a particularly disappointing to me, especially given the nature of the film (it would be nice to watch it with talking throughout).
- Reading the Quiet: Behind the Scenes of A Quiet Place (HD – 14:45)
- The Sound of Darkness: Editing Sound for A Quiet Place (HD – 11:44)
- A Reason for Silence: The Visual Effects of A Quiet Place (HD – 7:33)
There is also a Digital Copy code.
This is probably a good pick up for fans of horror and post-apocalyptic sci-fi. Reactions will likely be highly individual however, depending on the particular pet peeves of the viewer. Mine ultimately overcame the originality and production values, which are both of a high order. Either way, it’s an extremely well done disc.
- Matthew Weflen