Whatever You Do, Don’t Read This Out Loud: A Review of “A Quiet Place”

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In the horror genre, sound is an essential feature that filmmakers frequently utilize in order to create tension and execute on jump scares, be it through a lack of sound or perhaps the violent sting of a violin as the scary sight shocks audiences. It’s often that we watch characters in these films shush each other and emphasize remaining completely silent, or else the boogeyman (or alien, or deranged killer, etc.) may hear them — and we all know what comes next. The latest high-profile horror release, A Quiet Place, from actor-director John Krasinski, takes this idea and pushes it to its limit in a taut thriller based around a family who must make as little noise as possible, resulting in one of the most innovative and emotionally reverent horror films of the past decade.

The film’s efficient opening introduces its minuscule cast of characters and the intricate relationships they share, as well as the barren, post-apocalyptic world which they inhabit. We’re afforded an explanation as to what went wrong as we quickly come to discover that fierce alien creatures have decimated much of the world’s population. These blind, armor-plated beasts resemble the Xenomorphs of the Alien franchise, possessing nimble bodies and intense strength, but what makes them truly terrifying is their ultra-sensitive hearing capabilities that allow them to hunt their prey with ease.

At the outset, the film places us in the company of the Abbott family, which consists of five members, as they scavenge for supplies three months into life post-invasion. There’s parents Lee and Evelyn (played by real-life husband and wife John Krasinski and Emily Blunt), as well as their three young children, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe), and Beau (Cade Woodward). If it isn’t enough that Lee and Evelyn must care for three children in such a hostile living situation, they also must account for Regan’s deafness (admirably, Simmonds, the young actress who portrays Regan and does a wonderful job here, is deaf herself). While this introduces some problems, her disability actually presents a unique advantage for the family as well: proficiency in sign language. Much of the film’s dialogue is presented through signing (aptly translated into subtitles), allowing the characters to communicate without making any sound. This is vital to their survival, as the creatures, while not necessarily large in numbers, pose a lethal threat at all times through their ability to hear even the slightest of loud noises from large distances.

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Fear Needs No Translation: Is Blood Thicker Than Water? – An Analysis of “A Bay of Blood”

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In our dynamic culture, the thought of looking back from where we came from is often overlooked. It’s humbling to take a second and remember that if it weren’t for the innovators that came before us, then we wouldn’t be in the position where we are right now. The philosophers that spoke up against the norm, the scientists that questioned the accepted reasoning, and the political leaders that stood for change are all cornerstones to the world we live in today. Not only does it humble us, but it teaches us why what we experience today is the way it is. Likewise, in horror films, we can look back at the greats and learn from them — these masters of fear that still influence the industry, and probably will continue to influence it decades from now. Today, we pay our respects to the great Mario Bava, with an analysis of his 1971 film, A Bay of Blood, in this installment of “Fear Needs No Translation.”

Being credited with establishing the Italian giallo genre, it’s no wonder why Bava’s legacy has lived on through the works of those both native to and outside the Italian countryside. This specific subgenre of horror is a hybrid of many, drawing its defining characteristics from mysteries, psychological thrillers, as well as slashers, making it stand out from its other horror conglomerates. Bava started off as a painter by trade, but had a great influence by his father, Eugenio Bava, one of the first Italian film directors. Eventually following in his father’s footsteps, Mario brought along his own artistic prowess, creating films with brilliant coloring and lighting. With many underappreciated works, such as The Whip and the Body (1963) as well as Blood and Black Lace (1964), Bava has branded the giallo subgenre for eternity, perhaps most notably with A Bay of Blood. Continue reading

Student Feature: Roundtable Reviews of “The Babadook”

Found below are three reviews of the 2014 Australian horror film, The Babadook, written by Lewis University students Michael Freeman, Darlyn Olivares, and Kayla Rada.

*Spoilers ahead*

Michael Freeman:

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The Babadook is a terrifyingly stunning film that treats its audience to the minimalistic mundanity of a single parent household while descending into the depths of despair and grief-stricken fear that only an unseen force can create. It is a film with simplicity in its art direction, yet the complexity within its story and angular shots leads us, the audience, to further understand how destructive, beautiful, and horrifying our own denial and repression of memories can be. Using our childlike sense of wonder and imagination through the use of a storybook, we see the unraveling and torment of a tapped-out mother dealing with the uncontrolled problems of her past trauma and, now, with her own son. The music in this film provides a sense of eeriness as if we have heard the faint chime or the grumbling growl that crescendos as we get closer to the source.

The Babadook throws its audience into an emotional and mental meat grinder from start to finish. We are enthralled by the disturbance of this family ordeal and will stop at nothing, as the characters do, to look for closure. And yet, even though we may not receive an explicit resolution upon the film’s ending, we are left with a hopeful and subtle conclusion that leaves a bittersweet fulfillment. Jennifer Kent, the writer and director of this truly wonderful film, deserves the accolades for this stunning display of hope.

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Jet Fuel Jukebox: “It’s Tuesday Somewhere” Edition

So Arctic Monkeys finally announced a new album for May! Five years in the making, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino releases exactly a month from the day this is posting, and I for one cannot wait to hear what Alex Turner has in store for fans with this record (especially with the song aptly titled “The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip”).

Because of this news, I’ve added “One For The Road,” which is one of my favorite tracks from their previous LP, AM, onto the Jukebox this week. This song is accompanied by new releases from Anderson .Paak, Dua Lipa, and Cardi B, as well as another 16 cuts that Jake and I have been listening to recently, including Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues,” which comes courtesy of a little boy in a Walmart.

— Michael Lane, Blog Editor

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Jet Fuel Jukebox for 4/3/18

Well, Jake may have seen Lorde last week (which I can only assume was wonderful), but just last night, I went and saw a live show of my own. In the smallest venue I’ve ever been to, Schuba’s Tavern in Chicago, I saw a small indie band from New York called Public Access T.V., and they were great. Take your Lorde and shove it, Jake! (If you cannot tell, I’m just a bit upset that I too wasn’t seeing Lorde last week.)

So, naturally, I’ve decided to add one of Public Access T.V.’s tracks to this week’s playlist, as well as one each from the two openers that played before them, Prism Tats and Honduras. Elsewhere on the playlist, you can hear brand new songs from mega superstars The Weeknd and Shawn Mendes, among others.

— Michael Lane, Blog Editor

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Unretired and Unremarkable: A Review of “Unsane”

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In spite of enjoying a successful career throughout the first decade of the new millennium, acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh announced in 2012 that he would be retiring from filmmaking. This declaration didn’t last very long, as he returned from his hiatus just five years later with the very fun and underappreciated NASCAR heist thriller, Logan Lucky. While this was a definite return to form for the Academy Award-winning director of Traffic, Soderbergh’s second comeback feature, Unsane, isn’t nearly as successful.

Unsane (which is actually quite an awful title for a film) was created in secret sometime last year, having been shot entirely using iPhone 7 Plus cameras. And it is probably in this way that Unsane is most intriguing; not because of the narrative the film itself offers, but because of the bizarre story behind its unorthodox production. While Unsane may be rightfully billed as a psychological horror-thriller, the end result produces very few thrills, and the horrors that it retains are likewise disappointing.

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Fear Needs No Translation: Sleep With One Eye Open – An Analysis of “The Awakening”

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The supernatural has been a topic of interest since man has walked the earth. Life after death has piqued our ancestors’ interests, in attempts to gain some sort of closure for the inevitable end. Is there a sort of new life we gain upon crossing over to the other side, or do we simply rot in the ground as a forgotten body? Some believe there is no end of suffering — an eternal purgatory, doomed to haunt the halls which we once called home. In this week’s review on Fear Needs No Translation, the apparitions of the British Isles have returned to scare us once more in The Awakening.

Transitioning from television to the big screen in his 2011 film, British director and writer, Nick Murphy, has proven himself to be more than just a documentarian. Having experience in editing for the BBC newscast and directing a sizeable amount of television mini-series, Murphy previously demonstrated his cinematographic skill not only visually, but audibly as well. Utilizing expertly timed shots, accompanied by a soundtrack to enhance the fear, The Awakening chronicles a paranormal narrative that questions the morality of a post-war society ravaged by the ghosts of the past.

After the loss of her love due to World War I, Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) has put all her time and energy into her work: debunking the mystical. Her writings, along with her assistance in many police cases, have made her a household name among the British public. When the death of a student at a boarding school for young boys turns into claims of a haunting, Professor Robert Mallory, played by Dominic West, turns to Cathcart as the institution’s only hope.

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