Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A QUIET PLACE (2018) (4K UltraHD Review)


Label: Paramount Home Video 
Region Code: A
Rating: PG-13
Duration: 90 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD compatible) with Optional English Subtitles 

Video: 2160p Widescreen (2.40:1), 1080p HD Widescreen (2.40:1)  
Director: John Krasinski
Cast: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds

A Quiet Place (2018) is an alien post-apocalyptic movie that throws you right into the deep end without much of any exposition, an menacing alien race has arrived on earth - possibly via a meteor that wiped out a large portion of Mexico - they're a blind race of razor teethed/clawed creatures with keen hearing that attack anything that makes a sound, apparently having wiped out a large part of the human population on Earth in a matter of months. The movie isn't really interested in the world stage though, it zeroes in on the Abbott family a few months after it all went down - they're living in on a farm in a rural area, we have the dad Lee (John Krasinski, The Office), mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt, Wind Chill), deaf daughter Reagan (Millicent Simmonds, Wonderstruck), and sons Marcus (Noah Jupe, The Titan) and Beau (Cade Woodward), at the top of the film they're foraging for medical supplies in a desolate town when tragedy strikes, the youngest of the family is killed by an alien when a toy makes a loud noise on the road home. 

The film then moves the timeline up a bit and we catch-up with the Abbott's a year or so later having learned some valuable and hard earned lessons, they're more careful (and quieter) but the danger is still very real. They live in silence, communicating through America Sign Language, stepping softly and travelling on pathways covered with sound-dampening sand, always barefoot. The film is artful and well-shot, and the sound design is notable for the absence of sound that makes the intermittent use of loud noises all the more powerful, it's an interesting spin as in most horror films the characters scream when anguished, but this film doesn't allow for such comfort, here sound is the enemy, but it also turns out to be a weapon when used properly. 

When I first heard that Krasinki, who played the light-hearted character Jim from The Office, would be the father I couldn't see him as a hero-dad, even after seeing a few clips of him in his survivalist beard mode the idea didn't bowl me over, but I must say that I have a new respect for Krasinski as both an actor and director, he's great in both roles. His real wife Emily Blunt plays his partner here and she's a force herself, and the kids played by Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds are top-notch. Simmonds (who has been deaf since birth) gives her angsty teen character some nice depth, she acts out but never in an annoying way, being a teen has always been hard, even more so when there's an alien apocalypse happening and your deaf, unable to hear if you're making a sound that might get you killed! At time when the film is from her POV there's absolutely no sound at all, not even an ambient tone, and I found the vacuum of sound to be very impactful, it definitely heightened the tension. The son Marcus is bit of fraidy-cat, and I don't blame him a bit, having seen his younger brother slaughtered by an an alien his hesitance to join his father on a food foraging trip was understandable, but the trip turns out to be a nice bonding moment with the son offering some valuable insight into his sister's mindset to the dad.

The alien creatures are cool looking, long front-limbed creatures with armored skin, their fearsomely toothed heads cracking open in fragmented ways to reveal a highly evolved sense of hearing, looking a bit like Marvel's toothy Venom, the film wisely only glimpsing them for large swaths of film, but when they're finally revealed full-on the design and digital effects hold up.

While watching this I didn't realize it was PG-13 at first, and more and more I find that PG-13 horror in the right hands is less and less a handicap, Krasinki pours on the suspense with every frame of the film a tension-filled exercise in suspense, not that I would have minded more gore, but it didn't detract from the story this film was telling. It's also anchored by the family drama that as a dad really pulled me in and tugged at the heart-strings, a scene of the father simply telling his daughter that he loves her during a key moment made me tear-up, so it's well-acted and emotionally strong, which makes the suspense and terror all the more frightening. 

Audio/Video: A Quiet Place (2018) arrives on 4K/Blu-ray combo pack from Paramount Home Video in 2160p UltraHD framed in 2.40:1 widescreen, shot on 35mm film and finished in 2K the film has a nice veneer of fine film grain, with an abundance of fine detail and textures throughout with the HDR kicking up colors a notch on the 4K disc and in addition to offering deeper black and shadow detail, this is a very pleasing presentation all around, though it might not be the razor sharp 4K eye-popper some will be expecting from the format. The Dolby Atmos audio is strong and nuanced, offering up a  hushed tone presentation with winds whispering and autumnal leaves rustling along, providing an ambient tone to the near wordless film, however, when the aliens show up and click and shriek it's unnerving stiff, with the silence being broken by a loud sound, and every time I found it startling when the sound kicked-in, optional English subtitles are provided. Screenshots used in the review are sourced from the Blu-ray not the 4K UltraHD. 

Special Features: 
Creating the Quiet – Behind the Scenes of A Quiet Place (15 min) HD
The Sound of Darkness – Editing Sound for A Quiet Place (12 min)HD
A Reason for Silence – The Visual Effects of A Quiet Place (8 min) HD

Sometimes the hype for a film scares me off of it, which is why I try to avoid trailers or reading reviews before seeing a movie, it was nice to go into this one fresh and free of expectations, and I was pleasantly blown away by what a personal and suspenseful alien invasion film this turned out to be. So, now let me add my own hyperbole to the wave of praise, A Quiet Place is a real nail-biter along the lines of The Last Man on Earth (1964) by way of M. Night Shylaman's Signs (2002), a big recommend from me for this one.  

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