“A Quiet Place”- Movie Review
Is it me, or have horror films gotten considerably better over the years? There have been a lot of duds, of course. I mean, not every project can hit it right out of the park. From what I’ve seen though, with films such as The Conjuring, Lights Out, Oculus, It, and Get Out, it definitely seems like more brain power is being put into these kinds of movies. The stories are getting smarter and the scares are getting scarier. If you need more proof of this, take Platinum Dune’s newest feature A Quiet Place as an example.
A Quiet Place drops us into a near future in which the world is ravaged by blind alien creatures that hunt by sound. The Abbott family (made up of John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmons, and Noah Jupe) has grown accustomed to their presence. They live out their days in absolute silence, communicating through sign language, practically muffling every breath they take and reshaping their way of life to hide from the monsters that lurk in the countryside. Though their efforts can only last for so long. One thing leads to another, and soon enough the family finds their safe haven crumbling and their survival at risk.
Unbeknownst to me, this isn’t the first movie John Krasinski has ever directed. As I was skimming through my notes and prepping for this review, I was ready to declare that A Quiet Place is one hell of a debut. Alas, some quick Wikipedia research proved me wrong. This is actually his third project as director, though my level of praise remains the same.
A Quiet Place is a treasure-trove of clever thrills and creative storytelling. The entire film is a build to the final act. It starts out slow, allowing time to explore how the world works. We understand through quick glimpses of newspaper clippings how everything came to be. We know through the Abbotts dramatic lifestyle changes (using sand trails to silent their footsteps, using leaves as plates, using mattresses in place of doors) the extent to which they have to keep themselves invisible to the creatures. Krasinski’s attention to detail is very sharp. This is visual storytelling at its finest. So much is conveyed through subtly. The slower moments keep your interest as the tension simmers then grows, and once the horror aspect kicks into gear, it’s like riding a wave of falling dominos.
Krasinski proves with his beautiful establishing shots and build of suspense that he plenty of talent behind the camera, but he shines in front of it as well. He and the rest of the cast give great performances. He and his real life wife Emily Blunt translate their romantic chemistry onto the screen. Their characters’ shared stress and fears about coming to terms with a past tragedy while also trying to protect their family feels genuine. The young actors playing their children, Millicent Simmons and Noah Jupe, are just as compelling. Simmons being deaf in real life adds a lot of authenticity to her role, and Jupe handles several tough emotional beats very well. Most importantly, every single one of these actors sells the terror of the situation. Are they the deepest, most three-dimensional characters in the world? No. But with this type of movie, you don’t need them to be. What’s important is that the Abbotts feel human. That despite moments of questionable decision-making, you still find yourself praying they make it out alive.
While I consider A Quiet Place more of a sci-fi thriller with horror elements than a straight-up horror film, there’s no arguing it’s a truly great film. At multiple points I found myself holding my breath and being too scared to reach down for a handful of popcorn for fear of making too much noise. The scary stuff never truly terrified me, but the intensity of it definitely stuck. A Quiet Place gives exactly what it promises. It’s simple, but it’s smart. Hats off to Krasinski and everyone involved for bringing a silent movie to the modern era.