Imagine a place where any significant sound can summon a monster from out of nowhere to kill you, like a childhood nightmare.
Now imagine you are deaf and don’t know when a monster is behind you? Add in a mother about to give birth with the attendant and understandable noise created, this might be some cause for some tension?
This is the world “Lee Abbott” (John Krasinski) and his wife “Evelyn” (Emily Blunt) and three children find themselves, in a post-apocalyptic rural American farm setting.
There are few people left, monsters hunting by sound have decimated the population. This surviving family lives quietly, very quietly. Managing to eke out a subsistence in almost total silence. Everything, including paths strewn with sand are designed to deaden noise, almost all conversation is conducted using sign language.
When someone is sick and needs medicine, a visit to the abandoned town pharmacy is a cause for anxiety with good reason, as the stakes are high, very high.
Kransinki who is arguably best known from the American “Office” series and of course his real life wife Emily Blunt, make for an understandably believable couple. They attempt to care for their two sons “Marcus and Beau” (Noah Jupe & Cade Woodward) and deaf daughter “Regan” (Millicent Simmonds) as best they can in an impossible situation.
Following earlier events, the impending birth of a new child introduces more reason for the ever present tension and menace to be ratcheted up even further.
Whilst not particularly gory, the sound effects are suitably impressive especially amongst the overall quiet of the film. When we finally get to meet the monsters, they are part “Alien” but full on unpleasant.
Relative new director Krasinski has made a short, taught and lean film that does everything it sets out to do and more. Whilst there is moderate horror and some jump scares, this is a film about a family, pulling together trying to survive.
At its simplest, this is about what parents will do for their children, with older kids not always realising, sometimes when it is too late, how much their parents care about them. This is not a film about scaring the audience into submission, but mixing real earned emotion and guilt alongside the occasional ripped off “Jurassic Park kids in peril” set sequence.
Krasinski is solid, Blunt exceptional in some very harrowing sequences and the older kids show how good young actors can be, notably Simmonds who is deaf in real life and a real stand out here. The film occasionally switches to her silent world very effectively.
Arguably not perfect, with minimal back story or explanation as to why the creatures are here and their demands, save culling the local populace.
However, the film ends with a very effective sound effect and with $334m box office on a modest $17 budget, it’s unlikely we have seen the last of these creatures.
Excellent and well worth watching even if horror is not your thing
Moderately scary, but full on tension. Watch for the thriller/horror undertones and enjoy the excellent acting, direction and emotional heft as an extra bonus.