Director: John Krasinski
Cast: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe
In many horror films, sound is a major part of the scares. From creepy music pervading a suspenseful sequence to pulse-pounding sound accommodating a surprise, many of the movies in the genre rely on the film’s spooky sound.
A Quiet Place does the opposite.
Instead of relying on unrelenting sound to build suspense, the new horror film relies on a lack of sound to build tension for the moments when a noise interrupts the silence.
The premise of the film is simple. A small family tries to survive in a future world where monstrous creatures attack at the slightest provocation. “If they hear you, they hunt you,” the feature’s tagline notes. The creatures will attack anything or anyone that makes a noise.
It’s in this world that the crafty Lee (John Krasinski) and his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) Abbott are raising their young children. In the film’s opening moments, the devastation caused by the monsters is revealed in a devastating sequence. As the story progresses, audiences watch as the couple strain to protect their children in a world where sound can be deadly.
Krasinski, who co-wrote the screenplay with Bryan Woods and Scott, truly embraces the film’s unique concept. Early on, the director shows his willingness to play with the film’s sound to bring audiences into this vision of terror. Millicent Simmonds co-stars as the Abbott’s deaf daughter, Regan. When Regan appears onscreen early on, there’s no background noise. The silence is powerful, letting us hear the world the way that Regan hears it. Simmonds, who is deaf in real life, perfectly presents the character’s conundrum. Her character can’t hear the one thing that could bring monsters to her doorstep.
After setting the stage for a film with little dialogue, Krasinski seemingly knows that he needs to use other tools at his disposal to build his characters. He overcomes that difficulty by crafting his characters in quiet and subtle ways. In an early scene, for instance, he captures the romance between Lee and Evelyn by showing a loving dance between the duo (set to music pulsing out of headphones). There are a few scenes where these characters speak to each other but it’s this one short scene that reveals their affection for each other in a beautifully-articulated way.
By focusing his story on one particular family, the screenwriters have ample time and patience to capture each of the relationships depicted here. Many of the relationships are explored through subtle body language and through their physical interactions with one another. There are a few scenes where the characters do speak to each other. One particular highlight is a scene shared between Lee and his son Marcus (Noah Jupe). Because there are few words spoken in the film, the words that are exchanged here have a greater emphasis and meaning.
When the thrills come, the film has already built an emotional connection between these characters making the frights more potent.
A Quiet Place is a dramatic revelation, showing Krasinski’s ability to craft scares in a unique world. There are plenty of thrills and scary moments here that should keep audiences intrigued. But more importantly, the director has built an emotionally-packed drama here that takes advantage of its premise and embraces the ideas it brings up.
“Who are we if we can’t protect them,” Evelyn asks her husband about their children in one scene. It might be a simple line in another horror film but here, that line and this unique story carries an emotional weight that really make this film stand out.
Review by: John Hanlon