Quiet Place, A (2018)

Review #1,557

Director:  John Krasinski
Cast:  Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe
Plot:  A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.

Genre:  Drama / Horror / Sci-Fi
Awards:  -
Runtime:  90 mins
Rating:  PG13 (passed clean) for terror and some bloody images
Distributor:  United International Pictures

 “Who are we if we can't protect them?”

I am usually not so interested in generic movies about nasty creatures that hide in the woods, because the more you watch, the more diminishing the returns are.  But the rave critical reviews so far for A Quiet Place has made me take the plunge again, and I must say it is pretty good.  

Co-written and starring John Krasinski in what is also his third feature film as a director, A Quiet Place is a precisely-crafted horror movie with a high-concept: In a post-apocalyptic world, creatures with an extremely sharp sense of hearing hunt anything that makes a sound.  They are, fortunately, blind and probably can’t smell anything, but darn, their hearing is perfect.  

Krasinski plays the father of a family caught between trying to live their lives as normal human beings and surviving the predator-prey scenario that has been ongoing for more than a year.  Emily Blunt plays the mother, in an excellent display of fear yet possessing the maternal courage to protect her children.  Millicent Simmonds (hearing-impaired in real life), is especially good as the daughter, in a follow-up performance to her breakthrough acting debut in Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck (2017).  She and her character are a huge boost for the hearing-impaired community’s representation on the big screen.

The film may be reliant on a familiar setup synonymous with the genre in what feels like a cross between Cloverfield (2008) and 28 Days Later (2002), but Krasinski somehow finds a new way to tell an old story.  As you watch the movie, you might sense that there’s something lurking refreshingly beneath its Hollywood-style veneer, waiting to emerge and be its own beast.  In a way, A Quiet Place is as much about trying to navigate a perilous physical world through strategic means as it is about trying to prepare the young to face the realities of adulthood through self-sustenance and responsibility.  

Two aspects of the movie fascinate me:  First, its use of sound, or lack thereof, that suggests the importance of sound in an audio-visual medium.  For instance, a different frequency of “room tone” is experienced by a character from the onset.  The mixing of sounds (i.e. layering) is also strategic to the plotting.  Second, it intricately builds up the suspense—not just of any kind, but the elemental, visceral tension which is the kind you feel deep in your gut—through the minutiae of life, consciously and silently enacted such that any normal-sounding action could pose a death risk.  

This is a disquieting film in the fullest sense of the word, and although a few indulging jump scares do slightly mar the experience, A Quiet Place should go down as one of the better horror films of the year.   

Verdict:  It may rely on a familiar setup for horror movies about hidden monsters in a post-apocalyptic world, but there’s something lurking refreshingly beneath its Hollywood-style veneer, particularly the intricate build-up of elemental tension and the fascinating (lack of) use of sound.





Popular Posts