A QUIET PLACE  * 1 / 2

Starring Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe and Cade Woodward. Screenplay by Brian Woods, Scott Beck and John Krasinski. Directed by John Krasinski.

Sorry guys, but I’m still hung up on that nail.

In John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place, the director-star has ensconced his family in an outlandishly souped-up, semi-soundproofed farmhouse to stay safe from swarming hordes of slimy, mantis-like aliens that will swoop in and eat anyone or anything that makes even the slightest bit of noise. The house has been outfitted with a color-coded silent alarm system, a basement radio communications center and all sorts of other accoutrements that become even more impressive (or just silly) when one considers that they also must have been constructed in complete silence.

And yet –here in this house where foot-paths have been painted to the floors for the purpose of avoiding creaky boards—there’s a big, pointy nail sticking up out of one of the cellar stairs that exists for the sole purpose of co-star Emily Blunt stepping on it at the exact moment when the screenplay requires her to. I couldn’t let it go. How did anyone miss this massive nail when they were fortifying the compound? Or just doing laundry? What’s a nail doing there anyways, serving no function besides sticking up out of a step like that where people are supposed to walk? Why would anyone hammer it into a stair that way in the first place? And how would they do so without being eaten?

Look, I apologize. I understand that playing Logic Cop is one of the lowest forms of criticism, and nitpicky sites like CinemaSins drive me crazy, too. The truth of the matter is that we as audiences generally don’t mind suspending our disbelief as long we’re having a good time. You never hear people complaining about this kind of stuff in movies they enjoyed. (That’s why Indiana Jones can survive jumping out of an airplane with a rubber raft in one film but if he hides inside a refrigerator in another it’s suddenly “unrealistic.” And lord, let’s not even get started on the plot of Vertigo.)

But I was having such a lousy time watching A Quiet Place that this shit was all I could think about.

There’s not much else to hang onto here besides the dopey inconsistences. Real-life husband and wife Krasinski and Blunt make a shockingly bland couple, and one could make a drinking game out of how many times they bug their eyes out really wide with a finger over their lips. The only appealing performance comes from their deaf daughter, played by the magnificently named Millicent Simmonds of Todd Haynes’ recent Wonderstruck. But with no tangible goal or motor pushing the story forward, we’re just stuck sitting around waiting for the family to be attacked, as the extremely pregnant Blunt is about to give birth.

You’re probably wondering what kind of assholes would bring a child into this ravaged world when they know full well that a baby’s crying will bring about all of their gory deaths? The screenplay (by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck and Krasinski) supplies the couple with an extremely tacky reason for wanting another kid, one that made me immediately begin to despise these characters for their selfishness. Krasinski gives himself a lot of ponderous glamour shots in which he stands forlorn and alone against the landscapes, weighed down by his patriarchal responsibilities and dewy-eyed, like a sensitive beardo. Yet I couldn’t help thinking that if he really loved his family so much he would’ve pulled out. (Jeez, the film even begins with them foraging for supplies at an abandoned drugstore. Pick up a pack of rubbers while you’re there, pal.)

A Quiet Place isn’t even particularly quiet, with a blaring musical score by Marco Beltrami running roughshod all over the suspense sequences. Aside from the opening scene –during which you can hear all your fellow patrons unwrapping candy and chewing popcorn with their mouths open– it’s about as noisy as any other horror film. The Coen brothers’ No Country For Old Men and Michael Haneke’s similarly set, post-apocalyptic cabin-in-the-woods movie Time Of The Wolf used long silences and the absence of music to draw out the dread to almost unbearable levels. This one’s got Beltrami (not exactly a subtle composer) blowing Inception horns in your ear after every damn jump scare. It’s like the movie can’t even commit to its own gimmick.

And I still can’t get over that stupid nail.

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