After months of teaser trailers that had piqued my interest to an ‘I must see this movie’ level of anticipation, I rushed out to see the first advance screening at my local cinema; enticing my friend Shellie who is the same as me when it comes to a fun night out – always up for it!
I knew that the essential plot of this film concerned itself with a country bumpkin family terrorized by something or someone who is drawn by sound, hence the title of the film. The only way to survive is with silence. I wondered how this would play out in a cinema full of popcorn eating teenagers, the cynical youth of today who have grown surrounded by explicit, instantly gratifying horror films; fed a steady diet of jump scares. The best horror relies heavily on atmosphere but the fact that this film would be so dependent on silence/sound/ambience made it something easy to ruin. I took my seat with trepidation.
But, I am happy to say, my fears were unfounded.
Beginning with a shocking tragedy that took my breath away, this film announces in its opening minutes that it will pull no punches.
Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe are the Abbotts, surviving and thriving after a cataclysmic alien event that (as gleaned from the many abandoned newspapers and scrapbooks laying about the town and their home) released blind creatures on the earth that hunt with sound; and its this family who we spend our time with.
Each character has their own cross to bear, their own weakness or situation to overcome, and each character is explored and understood. This fleshing out of personalities is essential in good horror and why so many fail to raise the pulse – if I don’t care about them or cant relate to them then I don’t really care if they die.
With half the cast rounded out by children the stakes are all that much higher and you can’t help but worry about them every time they are not under the watchful eye of their vigilant parents.
The attention to detail in this film is impeccable, from the carefully laid sand trail leading to town for quiet steps, to the fire lit up at night reflected back at them from points across the mountain as other families light up to let them know they are not alone; from the warning lights strung throughout the field to alert incoming family to danger at home, to the woolen monopoly pieces and soft fabric plates with no cutlery.
The acting is all well above average with Blunt and Simmonds particularly effecting. The direction by Krasinski himself is spare and resourceful – every shot is important and there is no fat to trim on either the script or the film itself, he makes every shot count.
There is emotion here too; with more than one scene causing me to well up which is a rare thing in horror.
The creatures are barely glimpsed at first and as the movie progresses we are indulged with more and more of a look-see until they are finally unveiled in all their glory. They are unlike anything seen before, alien without feeling too science fiction, horror without feeling like something that couldn’t actually exist – well done.
But oh god the tension! This film was almost unbearably tense at times, I nearly wanted to cheat and get my phone out to see who survives, but I’m mighty glad I didn’t as watching it unfold was a heart-pounding, seat-gripping pleasure.
This is frightening, intelligent, moving, fascinating and chock full of anxiety inducing dread.
The years best horror so far by a landslide.