This is one of those movies that suffers from the hype, though it wasn’t as intense as the ridiculously over-hyped Get Out, which has a similar critic and audience split, with critics liking it about 10 points more than audiences. The Boy and I saw it because the AMC that plays Chinese movies only had one that day. (It was on our list but we’ve missed some new American movies because of the classics and foreign films we’ve been seeing, so this seemed like a good opportunity.)
This is the post-apocalyptic tale of a family out on a farm who are hunkered down against some boogens that can only find you if you make noise. When the movie starts, they’re venturing into town for supplies—mom (Emily Blunt), dad (her real-life husband, director John Krasinski, who also directed and starred in the much-maligned The Hollars), two sons (one played by Noah Jupe, recently seen in Wonder), and one daughter (who is deaf). Something Bad Happens.
The rest of movie takes place about 300 days later, and family tensions are high as dad struggles to make daughter a hearing aid, while she’s pissed at him, and he’s upset with her. And mom is very pregnant. Meanwhile, older bro is reluctantly being made a man by dad. (He’s trying to teach him how to fish without getting eaten.)
Basically, then, this is a family drama plus boogens. It’s a good family drama. The boogens add, if only marginally, to the tension of an ordinary family drama, but they provide some excellent punctuation to various dramatic set pieces. And, of course, when you’ve got some boogens, you don’t need to give anybody cancer or get them killed in a car to provide prospective: You’ve got boogens.
There are also a handful of very well executed suspense scenes. There is a real payoff here which make it more palatable to a wider audience than, say, last years It Comes At Night, and it’s not really a slow, atmospheric build-up like The Witch or Hereditary, so audiences like that more, too.
The ending is obvious from the first post-title scene. That’s okay. It’s well done. But this is definitely something that fits in with the general “Don’t think too hard about any of this” tenor of the movie.
Some things rankle right away, like how did they get those beautiful, neat rows of corn if they can’t make noise? If sound volume falls out in a square relation with distance, how is it small sounds seem to attract the Boogens from far away, while those on a similar magnitude up close don’t seem to? If sound-proofing is possible, why don’t they spend most their time in sound-proofed areas? How could she not take the batteries out?
If they’re killed in such an obvious—even intuitive—manner, why did nobody think of that line of attack before?
Eh, nitpicking. it’s a fine film. It makes dramatic sense and aesthetic sense. It doesn’t have to make sense sense. The Boy definitely enjoyed it more than I, though. At least partly because he hadn’t been exposed to as much of the hype.