'A Quiet Place' Pays Homage to Hitchcock
My film history knowledge is shoddy at best, but I know the impact Alfred Hitchcock have had on the medium. Hitchcock directed upwards of 30 movies. Of those 30 movies, I've seen a measly three. Why volunteer this embarrassing tidbit of information you ask? Because even though I'm not a horror/suspense genre expert – or really even a fan – I had a blast having my blood pressure rise and fall while watching A Quiet Place and I believe even the most diehard Hitchcock fan will too.
"A Quiet Place" stars real-life couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt as the husband (Lee Abbott), wife (Evelyn Abbott) and parents to three young children, including their deaf daughter, Reagan (Millicent Simmonds), their oldest son, Marcus (Noah Jupe), and their youngest son, Beau (Cade Woodward). Almost immediately you learn that their family has existed in silence for over three months due to a deadly invasion of demogorgon-like creatures. Unlike other monster movies, these creatures hunt by sound, not sight, so in order to survive, the Abbotts must communicate via sign language, use plants as plates, and avoid clumsiness at all costs. When tragedy befalls the family, everyone grieves in their unique way while struggling to survive the daily perils and preserve their family unit.
One of the things that I liked most about this movie was how it set the stage. Oftentimes horror films will rely on voiceover or bloated dialogue to provide the audience with key information. However, in A Quiet Place, Krasinski, who stars and directs the feature film, uses news clippings, dry erase boards, and other backdrop details to let the audience piece together the narrative. He can focus his attention on generating – and sustaining– the same kind of palpable tension that is omnipresent in Hitchcock's films.
There was one point midway through the film where I began to nervously laugh out loud because the tension was too much for me to handle. Krasinski uses something as basic as an out-of-place nail to tease and torture the audience across multiple scenes. Although the inevitable happens in its full gore, the emphasis is less on the gore and more focused on the doom that's to follow, which kept me on the edge on my seat longer than it took for the blood to run dry.
He uses the same technique to prolong the tension caused by Evelyn's pregnancy. Lee created additional precautions. However, no amount of measures can protect Evelyn and her newborn son from one of the creatures once it hears her pained cries. This leads to 30 minutes of the audience wondering will they or won't they be eaten until a few seconds before the film's end.
At first glance, you would assume this movie was made solely to thrill you while capitalizing on the fact that Krasinski and Blunt are married in real life. However, while promoting the movie, Krasinski mentioned that the film is first a love letter to his two daughters and second a genre film, and you can easily see that throughout the movie. There are a number of instances where Lee and Evelyn risk their lives to protect their children and serves as a heart-warming reminder of the importance of parenthood.
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