A Quiet Place: Lean In, Listen Closely, Don’t Make a Sound
Try watching any horror movie with your hands over your ears- something I do more often than I should admit- and you will find yourself slightly transported away from the fear, but not in John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place. The silence in this film is perhaps a character of its own, sending shivers down the spines of any viewers. The unwanted seduction of the silence, along with the stellar directing, and performances by all parties allow A Quiet Place to be a memorable film that stands out in its genre.
The film begins on "Day 89," leaving viewers to wonder what exactly has happened over the past 89 days, though we will soon find out. The silence immediately introduces itself suddenly making all theater goers conscious of their snacking habits. We are then thrown into this world through the eyes of the Abbot family as they scavenge through an abandoned grocery store. Krasinski and his real-life wife Emily Blunt’s characters Lee and Evelyn lead their three children through the post-apocalyptic world that has been thrust upon them. The family communicates through sign language, which they use towards the end of their trip to the super market to scold their youngest son for attempting to take and play with a toy rocket, that would be as Krasinski’s character puts it “too loud”. Unfortunately for the Abbot’s, their daughter, played by the talented deaf actress Millicent Simmonds, gives their youngest son the toy back holding her finger up to her lips telling the young boy to be both quiet and keep her actions a secret. Because of Simmonds’ character’s attempt to make her brother happy, viewers are forced to endure one of the most heartbreaking and horrifying sequences I have ever seen in a horror film.
After the stakes of the film are established, the narrative jumps forward one year. The first half of the film may seem a touch slow for viewers who came into the movie looking for a fast-paced experience, but that glacial introduction is crucial to the second half of the film. The beginning of the film is all about setting up the dominos that will eventually fall. No one enjoys arranging dominos, but when you work tirelessly setting up an elaborate design, getting to push them down is worth it. I couldn’t tell you if the fall that takes place in the second half of the film is more satisfying or stressful, but you know it is good when suddenly a rusty nail becomes the main antagonist of the film.
Through the power of the silence and detailed visual ques, it is evident that Krasinski knows how to make viewers lean in while simultaneously wanting to cover their faces and hide. As a director, Krasinski knows what feelings he wants to elicit from his viewers and does so in the most careful and thought out way. The film does not just rely on Krasinski’s directorial skills, though. The performances by the four actors in this film are exquisite. A stand out performance by Emily Blunt in a particular scene is one that will not be forgotten.
A Quiet Place is so much more than a cheap horror film that only relies on jump scares, though trust me, it does not shy away from using them either. It seems that we have entered a new renaissance of horror movies with films like Get Out, It, and Split that have been both critically acclaimed and adored by the average movie goer. All of these films are stories that have a deeper layer, whether that be an intellectual one or an emotional one, as seen in A Quiet Place, that do more to their viewers than just scare them. Like every good movie these films mean something and have a message besides “I hope you have to sleep with the lights on tonight.”
While A Quiet Place is undoubtedly scary, it is clear that it also presents an emotional message. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt were in a new phase of parenthood while making this film; the couple had just brought their second daughter into the world. It is palpable by their acting and Krasinski’s directing how much of an impact their family life played on their characters and their attempts to do anything to protect their children. Krasinski put it perfectly in an interview talking about A Quiet Place when he stated, “this is a love letter to my kids. This is truly a story about ‘what would you really do for your children in order to protect them? The family stuff is so emotional for me.”
You don’t want to miss out on A Quiet Place. It is a movie going experience unlike any other. Just make sure you bring some quiet snacks.
Final Score: 9/10