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First, the idea is a cracker: human society has been devastated by invading blind aliens who hunt us down with their acute sense of hearing. Then, add excellent, tight direction from John Krasinski and a lean, somber script from Krasinski, Bryan Woods and Scott Beck. Add some integrity with the addition of excellent deaf young actress Millicent Simmonds playing a deaf girl. You’re cooking now. But the ingredient that puts this very effective little horror gem over the top is Emily Blunt. Thousands of actresses have played women in peril in horror movies, but Blunt shows you the value of shelling out for one from the A-List. To sell the big premise, the small moments must all feel true, and so must the fear.
Much of the film, as befits its premise, is dialogue-free, so we’re talking about quiet, intimate, gestural acting, acting of the face, and Blunt has a very sincere face. There’s never a false moment with her. She and Krasinski play a couple desperately trying to maintain a family in the wake of annihilation (they are a couple, and parents, in real life, too) and part of the reason the film works is that you believe in the family.
For me, as a dad, the family meant stakes – the ultimate stakes. The film is all about this couple doing everything they can to protect their children, and I could relate, as, I hope, any parent could, end of the world or not. If you’re young, single and care-free, the stakes of the film may not resonate for you as strongly, but you’ll still be left with a very well crafted, nifty, A-Grade horror picture that comes in at a perfect ninety minutes. There are some disappointing choices – for a film about sound, it uses too much music, there are a couple of big plot holes, and the aliens are cobbled together from other movies’ aliens, which is very lame – but this is absolutely a better-than-average genre flick, with a terrific ensemble at, and providing, its significant heart.