When I first saw the teaser for A Quiet Place, the first thought that came to my head was, “Huh. This seems intriguing.” A horror film which spends most, if not all, of its time in silence? It sounded too good to be true.
A Quiet Place is directed by John Krasinski. Yeah, let that sink in for a minute. That funny guy from The Office directed, starred and co-wrote the script for this. Co-starring alongside him is Emily Blunt as his on-screen (and off-screen) wife, and kids Millicent Simmonds & Noah Jupe.
The film is set in the near future, wherein the planet is overrun by extra-terrestrial creatures who use advanced echolocation to hunt down other beings. As the opening text informs the audience, it has been 89 days since the breakout of these creatures, and as a result, the world has gone silent. The only way to survive and not be detected is to not make any sort of sound. This is the one rule one must abide by if they want to make it out alive in this world.
Krasinski plays Lee, who has presumably taught his family everything he can which is deemed essential to survive. His family communicates through sign language, and for the most part, tries to indulge in activities which dare not attract any unwanted attention.
Now, to helm a film, and that too one in the horror genre, is a commendable effort in itself. Krasinski not only elevates this to the mantle of a good movie but a great one. Maintaining tension on screen is one of the hardest jobs a director can do, and boy is the film’s atmosphere tension-filled. Every second, every minute of the movie you find yourself gasping in horror of the unknown. You don’t get any cheap jump scares here (although there are a couple of good ones here). Instead, what you get is a movie filled to the brim with suspense.
For a film like this, the sound design is also important. More so than in any other film. And while I can’t quite give testimony about how well done it is, here’s a quote I picked up from the related Wikipedia section to highlight some good-old behind the scene goodie:
Supervising sound editors Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn worked on A Quiet Place. For scenes from the perspective of the deaf daughter, sound was removed to put greater focus on the visual. They also advised on organizing shots to reflect the creatures’ perspective, like showing them notice a sound, then showing what was causing the sound. Composer Marco Beltrami provided the sound editors music to work with in a way that would not interfere with the sound design throughout the film.
Good praise to Krasinski aside, let me throw some good praise towards the rest of the cast. Emily Blunt is, as always, a treat to watch. A role like this demands a strong screen presence and Blunt proves yet again that she’s no damsel in distress. With a strong sense of character and bravery (you’ll know why after you’ve seen it), she bluntly (hehe, geddit?) leads the film in a big way. Props to her for being such a good presence here.
Now, let’s talk about the kids in here. We all know that typically kids + horror movies = you screaming at said kids because they’re making dumb decisions. And it’s true here. At least for a while. It can be easy to pin a lot of the decisions that these characters take as dumb, and that blame can be easily shifted towards the writers. But, you have to take into account the reality of the (on-screen) situation here. This family has been struggling to survive for a little more than a year. You’d have to consider that their choice of lifestyle is going to be considerably different from ours. Even trivial things such as laundry and playing board games have become a headache for these people. It can get pretty frustrating after a while. Good on Simmonds (who, by the way, is deaf in real life) and Jupe!
So keep that in mind when you’re about to scream your vocal chords out at the screen for something they do. Also, if you’re not a sucker for use of sign language and the eon old “Show, don’t tell” formula of good filmmaking, you might want to skip this one.
If there’s one thing that we can all universally agree on about not liking something about these movies, it’s the tried and tested cliches. We all know about these nasty little things which take us out of, & ruin, the film-going experience (unless it’s a Scary Movie, because Scary Movie). So it really is to the filmmakers’ credit for disregarding these common tropes and instead show some originality. While it is a relatively low-budget movie, the use of CGI in bringing the dark monsters to life is spectacular! And they don’t shy away from it. Ever. The monsters are not some half-baked excuse thrown by the script in order to make a good sci-fi suspense film. They evoke, in the truest sense, a real amount of dread.
Coming to the negatives, there really aren’t much of those. There are a couple of plot points and character choices that kinda nagged me at first but I won’t delve into those here in lieu of avoiding spoilers. Some of them are resolved, and some are there to elevate the tension on-screen. Either way, none of them are enough so as to “ruin” the movie for you.
After the smash success that was Get Out, A Quiet Place subtly follows in its wake in that it presents a truly terrifying (in a good way) & heart-pounding experience. I have but one disclaimer for you. When you’re watching it just be… quiet.