“There’s a kind of hush, all over the world tonight”.
What a masterpiece this is! The most novel, the most tense, the most exhilarating, the most edge-of-your-seat Indie horror movie I could hope to see this year.
It’s 2020 and 89 days after “it” happens, the world is a very different place. Making any noise at all becomes a death sentence…. that bad cold could kill you and nothing seems to be able to prevent mankind from being annihilated one sneeze at a time.
In what could be a nice “Cloverfield”-style series, the action here focuses in on the resourceful Abbott family: the father Lee (John Krasinski, “Away We Go”) is handy with electronics and back-woods skills; the mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt, “The Girl on the Train“; “Edge of Tomorrow“) has medical training. So they are well suited then to take care of their offspring: the profoundly deaf Regan (Millicent Simmonds); Marcus (Noah Jupe); and their youngest Beau (a cute Cade Woodward). It’s a battle of brains against vicious, relentless and malevolent alien brawn: how far will Lee and Evelyn go to keep their family safe?
Man, this is a tense film! It doesn’t pull its punches from the get-go and thereafter there is an air of brooding and ever-building menace that gets right under your skin. This is certainly not helped by the fact that there is a ticking clock of an oncoming ‘event’ – no spoilers here – to worry about. As incessantly and inevitably as the rising tide in “The Shallows” a clock ticks down. Thank heavens then that the ‘event’ and the outcome of that ‘event’ are both traditionally such quiet affairs!
While all of the buzz at the moment is on the 80’s Easter Eggs in “Ready Player One”, here is a movie packed with delights for movie lovers. There are recognisable elements here from such classics as “The Road”, “Signs”, “Witness”, “Alien”, “Jurassic Park”, “Jaws”…. even (traumatically) “Home Alone”! So is it then just a rag-bag collection of stolen moments from other films? No – not at all. This stands tall and proud as a master work in its own right, the standout and unique quality of the movie being its use (or rather absence) of sound… something that works so magnificently as a concept in a movie-theatre.
I was lucky enough in the late September of 1979 to see (at 10 am in the morning as I remember!) in the Odeon Leicester Square in London, the first ever UK (and probably worldwide) showing of a little film called “Alien”. The cinema was pretty empty, but I have never sat through such an electric viewing. This had some of the same aura about it: a hushed audience, totally gripped. (I agree with Simon Mayo and Ali Plumb on this though that all snacks, and especially popcorn in scrapy SCRAPY cardboard boxes, should be banned from these screenings… I had to physically move seats away a noisy muncher as the film started!). But for sure, distractions accepted, this is a classic communal movie experience and so is a movie you should most DEFINITELY see in the cinema.
If there is one Oscar for February 2019 that I think should already be a shoe-in for a nomination, if not a win, it is the sound team led by Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn: breathtakingly spectacular. This is assisted enormously by the musical score of Marco Beltrami (“Logan“, “The Shallows“) which helps augment and annotate the action jump-scares brilliantly.
Another critical member of the crew for a film like this is the editor, and here Christopher Tellefsen (“Joy“) delivers the goods with tight and effective execution of those cuts (the film sort!) that made me vertically leave my seat at least a couple of times.
Real life couple Krasinski and Blunt share such obvious and tender chemistry that it is impossible to not get emotionally involved. A shared iPhone listening moment, as a lull in the action, is very moving. Millicent Simmonds, who is actually deaf from childhood in an inspired piece of storytelling/casting, is also an acting force to be reckoned with: her only other movie is last year’s “Wonderstruck” that I have yet to see.
Writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck (with contribution to the screenplay from Krasinski) also deserve praise for an intelligent and highly satisfying plot that never fails to disappoint to the last drop. Every detail, down to the painted footsteps on the un-squeaky floorboards, is just pitch-perfect. It’s also a film that very wisely doesn’t outstay its welcome: 90 minutes of such adrenaline is almost too much for anyone to stand! Krasinski as director keeps everything deliciously tight during that running time with no time to breath, particularly in the frenetic final reel.
I’ve gushed enough. This is a must see for sci-fi and horror fans of all ages. And with a “BvS quotient” of just 6.8%, it’s enormously good value for money. Go see it!
Fad Rating: FFFFF.
(There are a few spoilers in all the trailers if you analyse them too closely – this is one of the better ones, but still best avoided).