M.L. Miller here! As I go into my tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Seven of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2017 and going through September 30, 2018. I have posted Best of lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on April 6, 2018. Available on Blu-ray/DVD, On Demand, and digital download! Also streaming on Amazon Prime!

A QUIET PLACE (2018)

Directed by John Krasinski
Written by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski
Starring Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward, Leon Russom, Rhoda Pell

Many say that I have a prejudice against big budget horror. This isn’t the case at all. I actually love the feeling of going to a large theater and taking part in a group transport into wild and imaginative places. Now, I’m not exactly fond of the disruptive nature of today’s crowds, but when the movie is good and so is the audience, it can be a magical experience. The main problem with big budget horror is that it so often is tame and safe. Horror is about taking risks and stakes so dire that one might not come out alive. It’s about making you feel uncomfortable in your environment and confronting the unknown. These are not safe and tame sensations and it’s a risk to support a big budget on them. But sometimes the big budget and the horror concept works perfectly in tandem and I think that’s what we got with A QUIET PLACE.

Johnathan Krasinski plays Lee Abbott, the patriarch of a large family in a horrible situation. Living in a world overrun by carnivorous creatures that use sound as their main hunting method, Lee and his family must live silently in order to survive. After suffering the devastating loss of their youngest child, Lee and his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt, his wife in real life as well) are trying to keep the family together and are expecting a new child soon. With their son Marcus (Noah Jupe) and daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) growing up, Lee begins training his children to survive just in case something should happen to him. Regan is overcome with guilt as she was involved in the death of her brother, seen in the harrowing opening moments. Marcus is overly cautious and fearful of everything due to the incident. When Lee leaves the sanctuary of their home to try to teach Marcus how to live off the land, Evelyn and Regan are forced to fend for themselves with Evelyn’s pregnancy nearing its end. But how can Evelyn possibly give birth silently and how can a baby survive in a world where one utterance can mean extinction?

From concept to execution, I am most impressed that this is a straight up horror sci fi mix from first time director John Krasinski. I always knew him as Martin Freeman’s American counterpart on THE OFFICE—a role where he often goofily looked at the camera like Stan Laurel every time something absurd happened in the office setting. I never thought Krasinski had what it took to be a leading man type, what with his large eyes and ears. He just didn’t seem the type. Surprisingly though, all baggage from the NBC sitcom melts away immediately in the heartbreaking opening moments of A QUIET PLACE. This tragedy immediately raises the stakes and lets you know no one is safe. It’s an opener that snatches your attention and doesn’t let up. As the Abbott family move silently across the sand covered pathways, utilizing sign language for communication, we experience their loss, heartbreak, and love with no lengthy exposition or schmaltzy sequences. Sure, we get a Neil Young song (“Harvest Moon”), but even that holds a tenderness that feels real as Lee and Evelyn steal a moment to themselves amidst the chaos. It shouldn’t work. I should have been overcome by the cheese, but I wasn’t. I bought it, once again, because the threat was established early, yet it left so many questions that other films feel the need to answer, unanswered.

But it’s not all teardrops and sunbeams that make this film good. Setting up a film in this talkative, explosive, and otherwise noisy day and age is a true feat. The theater I went to see it in when I saw it seemed to get it and remain silent all the way through (again that opener shuts people the hell up and communicates that talking is not permitted to enjoy the film). There are scenes of sheer tension revolving around silence that don’t feel contrived, but as a natural part of the story. The Abbotts may not have wanted to have a child, but they are working their hardest to have it safely. Of course, when the baby is on its way, it’s not the ideal time, but again, these threats are a natural evolution from the plot and never feel like they are tacked on so that there can be one more action set piece for the family to hurdle. This is a smart script that covers all the bases.

The creature design in A QUIET PLACE is as unique as the concept. Built as ultimate hunters, they are fast, deadly, and once they are revealed, it is evident that they are all ear. Seeing these creatures hunt and track their prey is visually intriguing and easily one of the cooler monster designs you’re going to see this year.

I wish more films would have this kind of magical hold over the audience to keep them quiet. This is an entrancing and engrossing sci fi horror that utilizes tension, CGI, and top tier acting to offer up one of the best times you’re going to have in the theaters this year. It proves that big budget can take risks and make you feel as unnerved as the most intimate of low fi thrillers and signals that Krasinski is so much more than an office stooge.

Click here for the trailer!


THE 2017-2018 COUNTDOWN!


#2 – A QUIET PLACE
#3 – REVENGE
#4 – HEREDITARY
#5 – HOLD THE DARK
#6 – INCIDENT IN A GHOSTLAND
#7 – GET MY GUN
#8 – CREEP 2
#9 – GHOST STORIES
#10 – ANNIHILATION
#11 – FAKE BLOOD
#12 – MON MON MON MONSTERS
#13 – THE ENDLESS
#14 – THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER
#15 – LET HER OUT
#16 – FOUND FOOTAGE 3D
#17 – DOWNRANGE
#18 – BLACK HOLLOW CAGE
#19 – HAPPY DEATH DAY
#20 – MOM & DAD
#21 – THE LANDING
#22 – TONIGHT SHE COMES
#23 – THE RITUAL
#24 – THE BABYSITTER
#25 – MARROWBONE
#26 – BETTER WATCH OUT
#27 – THE NIGHT EATS THE WORLD
#28 – BE MY CAT: A FILM FOR ANNE
#29 – PYEWACKET
#30 – TERRIFIER
#31 – MAYHEM


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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