'A Quiet Place': silent magic, breathtaking stillness
It’s rare that a film can be called genre-defining, and even more rare for that film to be directed by someone who is new to that genre, but John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place” does just that. The film brings the viewers into the fold, making them feel as if any noise they make may endanger the family on screen.
Focused on a family of five, “A Quiet Place” starts with the world as the audience knows it completely gone. If the empty streets and dusty stores do not key the audience in to how dangerous this world is, the actors’ terrified faces make it clear that every movement is a matter of life or death. The film starts the audience at day 89 and quickly jumps to day 472, following our first actual encounter with the monsters that shadow the family’s every move.
The majority of the film takes place as the family prepares for the pregnant mother’s delivery. Their children have adapted to the world they now live in, but they also still genuinely react like real children. Their encounters with the monsters continue to get more extreme as the film approaches the climax, reaching its pinnacle in a truly spectacular and emotionally-grueling third act that will bring tears, screams and anxiety to even the most advanced horror fan.
While the monsters seem to be some strange cross between the dinosaurs from “Jurassic Park” and the aliens from “Signs,” they are still genuinely terrifying. Their lack of sight enables their advanced hearing and makes them unlike any creature on earth.
The film contains stellar performances by Krasinski, who plays the family’s unnamed father; Emily Blunt, his real-life wife who portrays the family’s mother; and Millicent Simmonds as the family’s eldest daughter. All three actors are able to show off their physical acting ability and really show a genuine relationship between a deaf child and hearing parents. Beyond just another horror flick, this film is at its core a genuinely beautiful exploration of familial relationships.
The film does experience a few strange tonal shifts; one when the father and son interact with a stranger who endangers them and again at the very end. While these can be jarring, they work within the context of the film. The ending tonal change especially works as a revitalization of the hope that the family had all but lost. It seems too over-the-top compared to the rest of the film, but it truly shows that perhaps their forced silence is not a permanent scenario.
Krasinski excels as a director. Every element introduced has a payoff at some point within the film. Whether it is a lighthearted scene explaining how water can block the creatures from hearing you, which later comes up as a way to avoid them, or just the eldest daughter’s hearing aid being a crux of not only her and her father’s relationship but also her survival. In a film as quiet as this one, it could be easy to fall back on jump scares commonly used in other films such as broken glass or a car alarm, but instead Krasinki focuses on noises that would genuinely create concern.
“A Quiet Place” is the horror fan’s dream in a sea of low-budget, teen-focused horror that presents a new standard for the genre. While it is not a perfect film, it is perfectly enjoyable and would pique the interest of any horror fan.