The best way I can possibly describe this film is: good and solid. From the story to the acting to the directing, those are the two words that apply most.
The film sets a tense tone right from the very beginning before we even see the creatures that are doing the hunting. The lack of music during this opening scene greatly helps to build the anxiety, as does the stressful and precise movements of everybody around. I’m always a fan of lack of music in a horror film. I think that by music not being there, it makes everything feel more real. This lack of music happens on and off throughout the film, and it greatly helps to create that sense of uneasiness.
Emily Blunt and John Krasinski do a wonderful job acting in this film. They were both very intense. It felt very real, which I assume was partly due to their being a married couple in real life. Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe play the two children and both were very believable. There’s a moment when Lee Abbott (John Krasinski’s character)
and Marcus Abbott (Noah Jupe’s character) are down by the river. Lee is showing his son how to catch the fish without any of the monsters hearing it. There’s a moment where one of the fishes jumps back into the water, and the terror in Marcus’ face comes across loud and clear.
There are a good handful of moments like that in this film, where the emotions are nearly overpowering. The one I want to talk about most is the climax of the film, where Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt’s character) is about to give birth to her baby while one of those monsters is in the house. Now, to remind you, those monsters hunt by sound. That’s the only way. So, you know, having a baby is not really the quietest thing that one can do. The build-up in this scene is incredible. It was to the point that I myself was so anxious
and overwhelmed that tears streamed down my face. I can’t recall any other time that I have felt something similar when watching a film. This was a first. I think that moment, with me at least, really showed how well these actors were doing in portraying these characters. I was so emotionally attached.
Of course, the acting wouldn’t be nearly as good if there wasn’t excellent source material involved. The writing is strong with this film. I mean, it has to be. There’s hardly any speaking. It’s all sign language and visuals. The writers had to build this destroyed world with just their words on the page, and then everybody was meant to interpret it to show us, the audience. They crushed it.
John Krasinski has definitely shown that he’s come a long way since playing Jim Halpert on The Office. Not only did he star in this film, he helped to write it, produce it, and, most importantly/impressively, he directed the film. His visuals built tension. His close-ups on character’s faces help to deeply connect the audience to this family. He’s one to keep your eye on in the upcoming years, I should think.
Okay, so I’ve talked about the acting, and the writing, and the directing, so now I’d like to talk about the story itself. Overall, I enjoyed it. The monster (or alien, or whatever it is) felt very Cloverfield-esqe. And that’s a good thing. I do want to say one very important thing because it is something that I see time and time again in these “end of the world/life we once knew” movies and tv shows: IT IS NEVER GOOD TO BRING A CHILD INTO THAT WORLD.
Please allow me to elaborate.
In the beginning of the film, Lee and Evelyn lose their four year old son, pretty much because he didn’t listen and played with a toy that made noise, so one of those monsters snatched him right up and ate him. Okay. That sucks. Yes. I agree. However, that does not mean that Lee and Evelyn need to have another child. And, sure, that child was probably not planned. But, I mean, there are ways to solve that. I’m just saying that they live in a time where any noise attracts these scary monsters that will eat whatever it is that is making the noise. BABIES CRY ALL OF THE TIME. Was Evelyn going to remain in that soundproof room for the next three years with the child until he was old enough to understand what quiet means? That seems ridiculous. Just because they lost a child does not mean that they need to replace the one that they lost. Focus on the two that are still living. Like, you already have enough stress. Do not add the stress of a newborn baby on top of the “we have to stay alive” stress that already plagues your daily existence. And some people may say that it was a good thing to do. That bringing a child into the world at any point is a good thing to do. And, to that I have to say, no. What they were doing was selfish. And now Lee is dead. We can’t bring him back. He told his deaf daughter that he has always loved her and then he died. Like, I don’t want to blame the newborn baby, but half of the problems of the last act of the film could have been avoided had Evelyn not been giving birth to that baby.
The ending was solid. Regan (Millicent Simmonds’ character) realizes that high frequencies are the monsters’ weakness. And, as the monster is losing its mind due to its ear drums shattering (probably), Evelyn shoots the thing right in the head. Which was awesome. Even better is that the other two monsters that live in the area are seen on the surveillance camera, running over to the house, and Regan turns up the radios, while Evelyn looks dead a head, her shotgun ready, and smiles. This gives a sense of hope that is otherwise absent throughout the entire film. You hope that these remaining characters make it. I mean, as long as there are really only three monsters in their area, then they should be fine. Fingers crossed.
All in all, it was a great film. In today’s day and age, where it seems like somebody always has something to say, it was actually refreshing to sit in a dark theater for 90 minutes and hear hardly anybody speak (in the theater and on the screen). It was enjoyable. It was different. It was refreshing. So, stop whatever you’re doing right now, and head to your nearest theater showing this film. Spend the money. See the film. It’s totally worth it. I promise.