PREVIEW: A Quiet Place

Recently, The Michigan Daily did an interview with John Krasinski, the director, co-writer and star of A Quiet Place. Krasinski first came into the public eye for his starring role as Jim Halpert on the American version of The Office, and it has been captivating to watch him branch out into more dramatic territory in the years since the show ended. In the interview, he talked about his goals for A Quiet Place, and the conscious decisions he had to make regarding sound and music, since the characters in the movie can’t make a sound without being attacked by violent creatures.

As someone who loves the horror genre, I’m incredibly excited to see the approach that this new film will take, and how it will use the lack of sound as an advantage rather than a detriment. It should also be interesting to see how the real-life chemistry between Krasinski and Emily Blunt (Sicario), his co-star and wife, plays into the movie and translates onto the big screen. A Quiet Place is currently showing at various theaters around Ann Arbor, including Rave Cinemas, Emagine Saline and the Quality 16.

PREVIEW: Truth or Dare

Truth or Dare is a horror movie about a game. The premise of a thrilling or suspenseful movie being built around a sleepover game isn’t a new one; we’ve seen it done before, in movies as recent as 2014’s Ouija and 2016’s Nerve (which actually used the same truth-or-dare premise, albeit in a much more techno, futuristic setting). Maybe the deal is that we get a new one every two years, and in 2020, we’ll get a scary movie revolving around “Two Truths and a Lie” or “Never Have I Ever”.

Truth or Dare looks like a standard slasher horror movie, the kind with a bunch of teenage friends getting picked off until it all comes down to one Final Girl. While it doesn’t appear to add any promising innovations or creative new spins to the genre, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it’s just fun to go out with your friends on a weekend night and see a horror movie, even if you’re not sure what to expect from it. The movie looks entertaining, and hopefully it will be able to bring some old tropes into fresh territory in its execution. Truth or Dare is currently showing in several local theaters, including Quality 16 and Rave Cinemas.

REVIEW: The Turn of the Screw

I was a little apprehensive going into The Penny Seats Theatre Company’s performance of The Turn of the Screw, this Thursday at the First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor. I had just recently finished reading the book version of The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James, and I had no idea of what to expect in terms of seeing it done on the stage — especially since I knew the production was only going to involve two actors.

When the lights went out at the beginning of the production and the church filled with the eerie voices of children singing, I already knew it was bound to be a good time. From then on out, in my opinion, the night was a success.

The show featured two actors: Mary Dilworth and Will Myers. Dilworth played the main character, the governess from whose perspective the entire story is told. Myers, very interestingly, played every single other character: the narrator; the handsome bachelor who recruits her to work at his estate; Mrs. Grose, the elderly caretaker of the estate and the governess’s ally; and Miles, the precocious, secretive, and endlessly creepy ten-year-old of whom the governess is charged with taking care. There is a second child, the young Flora, but there is no actor at all for her; her presence is only mimed by the other characters, addressed as thin air.

Considering this, it must be emphasized how impressive both of these actors were. Dilworth played with and cradled the invisible Flora so convincingly that she may as well have actually been there. She played the governess with an enthusiastic, girlish charm that I wasn’t expecting, but found completely believable. Myers, meanwhile, slipped so easily between his roles that it never once managed to come across as confusing, not even when he was given less than a second to transition.

The Turn of the Screw tells the story of the young woman, who is “seduced” into taking the job of the governess at Bly, an isolated estate in the countryside. The strange happenings that follow prompt her to question what happened between the previous governess, Miss Jessel, and the now-deceased gardener, Peter Quint; why Jessel and Quint are dead, and why they now seem to haunt the premises; and what part the innocent-seeming children, Miles and Flora, have to play in all of it. Needless to say, it is a classic ghost story, which means that most of the audience probably came to the church looking to get scared. (At least, I did.) The production did not disappoint–Myers and Dilworth utilized the entire church space, walking between the pews and lurking behind the rows and up in the balconies, so that it came to feel like the play was taking place not just before us, but all around us. The church ended up being the absolute perfect setting for the play, really lending itself to the element of creepiness.

I also really enjoyed seeing the textual changes made between the novel and the play adaptation. There were a lot of elements added–for instance, Miles’s affinity for riddles, and some surprising encounters between Miles and the governess. I won’t spoil everything, but it’s definitely a production worth checking out, especially if you’re looking to get into the spirit of the Halloween season. The Penny Seats Theatre Company will be putting the play on for two more weekends at the First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor, at 8:00 p.m.