A QUIET PLACE: Sound is a production element that moviegoers normally take for granted and only notice when something goes wrong with it or it just dies. But it plays a very significant role in getting attention for all the right reasons in this slick horror/suspense film about parents (Emily Blunt, John Krasinski) and their children (Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds, Cade Woodward) forced to live in silence to protect themselves from blind, predatory creatures who hunt and kill their victims by, you guessed it, sound. Tension is gradually built up and remains so consistent throughout the nearly silent screenplay that you fail to ask yourself how sightless monsters found their way to Earth, why the kids are allowed to roam around without adult supervision when carnivorous creatures are nearby or whose bad idea it was for Blunt (SICARIO) to get pregnant since everyone knows that crying babies make some of the loudest, most annoying noises known to man. That we are so fixated on the action from the opening scene to the crowd pleasing final shot that we never ponder these issues until well after the movie is embedded in our conscious is testament to the proficient technique of co-writer/director/star Krasinski (KINSEY) making his filmmaking debut. Credit should also go to Christopher Tellefsen’s tight editing as well as Marco Beltrami’s dread inducing musical score. The small ensemble, familial cast all deliver powerhouse performances with an especially noteworthy turn from relative newcomer Simmonds who’s hearing impaired in real life. Even if the script could have been written on the back of a matchbook cover, the action is well-orchestrated with respect for the convention of horror. Behind the camera, Krasinski understands that fear is generated by either what’s outside the frame or zips right through it. When we see a nail sticking up from a stair step, we know it’s going to be stepped on at the worst possible moment. But the narrative, penned by Scott Beck, Bryan Woods and Krasinski is clever enough that you may even overlook a device (Which I won’t reveal.) which will play a crucial role in the outcome. The creatures themselves are derivative from ALIEN (1979) and like that Ridley Scott gorefest, it occurs in a confined space where a terrifying monster(s) seek human prey for their consumption. Good horror films are basically cinematic roller coaster rides where you get on board, confront your darkest terrors as you squirm in your seat until you’re able to breathe a sigh of relief when it’s all over. All of that is present here courtesy of a filmmaker who knows how to “play” his audience with a “less is more” approach that never has to say a word to create dread and fear. CRITIC’S GRADE: A-

DOUBLE FEATURE: Three parents (Ike Barinholtz, John Cena, Leslie Mann) attempt to stop their daughters (Gideon Adlon, Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan) from carrying out a pact to lose their virginity on prom night in the hilariously raunchy BLOCKERS. What makes this coming of age comedy succeed is that the teenagers are as character developed with their graphic but realistic discussions about sex even as their overprotective guardians scheme to “protect” them. Some wacky scatological sequences involve a round of “butt-chugging” (Which seems to me like a waste of perfectly good beer unless it’s Bud Light.), a blindfolded couple playing a naked (Are there any other kinds?) sex game and the funniest scene involving group “barfing” since STAND BY ME (1987). Underneath all the R-rated humor, though, is a movie with enough heart to acknowledge that parents always want to keep their children close until it’s time to embarrass them at prom before letting them go. CRITIC’S GRADE: B+