Film Review: A Quiet Place (2018)

Release Date: March 9th, 2018 (SXSW)
Directed by: John Krasinski
Written by: Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski
Music by: Marco Beltrami
Cast: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski

Platinum Dunes, Paramount Pictures, 90 Minutes

Review:

“Who are we if we can’t protect them? We have to protect them.” – Evelyn

I was a bit skeptical about going to see A Quiet Place in the theater. Not because I didn’t want to check it out but because my theatergoing experiences have been really bad, lately. So how was it going to play out, going to a theater that is typically full of talkie assholes during a film that is all about keeping quiet?

Well, the theater was dead f’n quiet. This film pulled the room in and had everyone’s attention from start to finish. There may have been a whisper or two but people actually followed the golden rule of theatergoing: STFU.

And man, this film builds suspense so well, I found it damn near impossible to get up and go pee, even after three beers before the film and a Diet Coke the size of Andre the Giant’s torso during the film. Granted, I hate having to leave the theater for anything and I’m glad that I didn’t.

John Krasinksi was once Jim on The Office. Like many sitcom stars, he could have easily been typecast for the rest of his career and he probably would have had he not fought hard for roles he thought he had something to offer. Since The Office, he has fared better than all of his other co-stars except for maybe Steve Carell, who has also proved he can do drama. But Krasinski’s unique path led him to the director’s chair. This is the second picture he has helmed (after The Hollars) and he already displays great skill.

The building of tension and suspense in this film is incredibly effective and it relies on that tactic to tell the story and to convey the feeling of dread. While you see the monsters throughout the film and even see one very early on, A Quiet Place could have easily done what lesser horror films do and just tease the monster leading to a disappointing reveal late in the film. Many pictures try to build tension this way and most of the time, it fails. Krasinski threw the monster on the screen in the opening sequence and just got that bullshit out of the way, so we could focus on the human characters, their dynamic, their pain and their struggle to survive in a new and deadly world.

I liked the casting of Krasinski as the lead with his real life wife, Emily Blunt, playing his wife in the film. It made Krasinski’s picture a lot more personal and their chemistry came through adding extra emotional weight. While I’m typically not a huge fan of directors starring in their own things and casting family, it works here.

The kid actors: Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe were both absolutely fantastic. They handled the material very well, weren’t annoying and didn’t need to be rescued all the time. Sure, in the end, dad had to step in but they were capable and heroic characters, which was nice to see for a change.

I liked the monsters. They weren’t particularly unique but they were effective, scary and they worked for the story. They’re sort of like these armored humanoid four legged, spidery things that have a mouth similar to Venom from Marvel Comics.

I didn’t know what to expect with A Quiet Place, as it is really hard to find satisfying horror films this decade. While I wouldn’t call it a classic or anything, I hope it is adding to a new trend where we see better, smarter horror coming back. Between this, Get Out and It Follows, there is still hope in a genre dominated by PG-13 CGI haunted house movies.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: It Comes at Night but this is a better film than that.

Film Review: Detroit (2017)

Release Date: July 25th, 2017 (Fox Theatre premiere)
Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Written by: Mark Boal
Music by: James Newton Howard
Cast: John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jason Mitchell, John Krasinski, Anthony Mackie, Samira Miley, Chris Chalk, Chris Coy

Annapurna Pictures, First Light Productions, Page 1, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 143 Minutes

Review:

“I’m just gonna assume you’re all criminals.” – Krauss

John Boyega has been getting a lot of work lately, which is great, as I have been a fan since Attack the Block. Will Poulter, who I really only know as the virgin teen from We’re the Millers just made his entire career off of the back of his performance here.

Detroit has been released fifty years after the 1967 Detroit riots that it showcases. I’m not sure if that was intentional or just a convenient coincidence. Either way, the film shines a light on an incident that needed to be told and unfortunately, still has relevance today.

The movie uses its first hour to focus on the riots and the social and political climate around them. Although, if you are still alive and well in America today, it isn’t hard to understand. In fact, it makes you wonder how far we’ve actually come in half a century but the reality of the answer to that question is just depressing.

After the first hour of setup and character development, the film really picks up and gets to the story that was the main focus of the film’s trailers. Racist, psychotic police officers storm a hotel and discover two white girls in a building full of young black men and are offended by this. During the process, the main psycho cop (Poulter) shoots and murders a black man as he was running away through the building. The rest of the people in this part of the hotel are rounded up and put against a wall, as the cops threaten them, beat them and even kill some.

Following the hour or so with the cops in the hotel, the movie shifts to their trial and the aftermath of the situation for those who survived it.

Kathryn Bigelow, who is one of the best directors working today, proves, once again, that she can tell an exceptional and emotional tale that is relevant to what is happening in our world today. She also doesn’t box herself in with a traditional plot structure, as this film has three very different acts yet they all work in unison and weave a tale bigger than just the central incident of this film.

Getting back to Will Poulter, his performance as the racist piece of shit cop Krauss, was one of the best on screen villains in a long time. The kid has acting chops that go far beyond anything I could have expected, only having seen him in We’re the Millers. He has a unique look that can play virginal and innocent or intense and psychotic. He has the gravitas to pull off just about anything and I can’t wait to see where his career goes, as this should certainly open up a lot of doors. Based off of his look alone and his sly and sinister smile, I’d rather see him as the Joker than Jared Leto… just throwing that out there.

Detroit is not a perfect film or the best film that I have seen this year. However, it does what it sets out to do and it does it in a tasteful way that is hard for naysayers to argue against. While a lot of people want to turn a blind eye to how cops and the system have historically treated black people in this country, you can’t turn away and be disaffected by this picture. I hope it, at the very least, this opens some eyes.

I also hate the fact that it is 2017 and we still have to have these conversations.

Rating: 7/10