A Quiet Place
Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski
Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward
PG-13 for terror and some bloody images
Buy on DVD/Blu-ray
Part of what made horror once so effective was its ability to frighten without a word, or with the aid of only a haunting musical cue. A Quiet Place upends horror convention with its almost dialogue-free refreshment of the genre.
Set in the near future, society has collapsed and a small family lives in sequestration on the frontier while a threatening alien species, unable to see or smell the populace, hunts the survivors by sound. The family is forced to live in abject silence or risk the aliens killing them.
For his third feature directorial effort, actor John Krasinski has chosen an impressive premise for which he shares screenplay credits with the film’s story writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck. In addition to writing and directing A Quiet Place, Krasinski also stars in it alongside his real-life wife Emily Blunt and a pair of talented young thespians, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe.
Blunt is magnificent as the matriarch of the family, pregnant with another child. Without a word, she conveys hope, love, fear, and the pain of childbirth while trying desperately to help guide and raise her family. Krasinski is also strong as the father whose regrets about an incident early in the film have left him miserable and overly protective, castigating his young daughter for trying to do more.
Deaf actress Millicent Simmonds is superb in the lead, her expressive face selling so much of the film’s futility, frustration, familial angst, and future aspirations. Jupe is likewise capable of giving the audience a glimpse into the mind of a terrified kid while attempting to project strength and stability.
While the performances are certainly a key to the film’s success, the premise itself is the reason everything works out so well. With few moments of dialogue and a script dominated by communication in American Sign Language, we’re given a thrilling soundscape of natural sounds, bated breaths, and the occasional punctuation of simple, every day sounds that would, in most situations seem normal, but here could mean almost certain death. The sound of a mechanical toy or the accidental knocking over of a lantern loudly announcing the family’s presence and ultimately risking all of their lives being critical examples.
Krasinski is proving an assured director keeping tension high and employing traditional techniques in ways that communicate vast amounts of information to the audience without having to rely on heavy exposition in the form of copious amounts of dialogue. In that way, it’s similar to Mad Max: Fury Road, which didn’t tell the audience directly everything it needed to know, it simply showed it to them. Krasinski deftly tells his story to the audience without needing to be verbose.
The premise is well executed and the story compelling with the final scene standing out as a riveting rallying point for the future of these characters and of the film itself. A Quiet Place is one of the most thrilling and inventive horror films in recent memory.
February 28, 2019