Within the Sound of Silence
A Quiet Place is directed by and stars John Krasinski and also stars his real-life spouse, Emily Blunt.
In the years since the end of The Office, it seems to me that John Krasinski has been the one star from that show that has done the most to branch out from comedy, having starred in Michael Bay's 13 Hours and now being director and co-writer for A Quiet Place, which is actually Krasinski's third film directing credit after Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and The Hollars. Who would've thunk that the man who will likely be forever known as the mild-mannered prankster Jim Halpert had it in him to be the director behind what may very well end up being the best horror film of 2018? Cynical me who hates all movie trailers nowadays didn't quite get on board when the first trailers for this film dropped, but even I admitted to myself that the concept of monsters that hunt by sound had promise, and promise goes a long way in horror nowadays.
What also helps the matter is that this is not a horror movie that stars a horde of who-the-hell-are-these-people teenage-looking actors that end up being killed in gruesome horror-movie fashions. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt are two well-established actors, and the fact that the two are real life husband and wife results in there being natural chemistry between their respective characters. Plus, the family portrayed in the film are the only characters that we observe, meaning that Krasinski and Blunt are responsible for carrying the vast majority of the movie, a task that they prove more than capable of undertaking.
Krasinski and Blunt play Lee and Evelyn Abbott, a couple with three children that live their lives in total silence. The Earth has been overrun by a horde of monsters that possess ultra-sensitive hearing, meaning the monsters will hunt and kill anyone or anything that makes a loud-enough noise. The Abbott family communicates through sign language and scavenge for supplies in the local town, avoiding making sound at all costs. Tensions develop between Lee and his children (for reasons I won't spoil), and Evelyn is due for a baby very soon.
The fascinating thing about A Quiet Place is how it almost forces itself to be a character study, for there would not be much of a movie if it consisted of nothing but the family staying quiet and avoiding the monsters (though that would certainly lead to a fair bit of tension). Not everything is peaches and cream for the Abbott family, as the children have wants that the parents do not agree with. The family's daughter, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), desires to go out scavenging with Lee, but Lee refuses to let her. Tensions are highest between Lee and Regan during the film, mostly which revolves around Regan not believing that her father loves her with all his heart (this is once again due to something that I refuse to spoil). Even though there is danger all around them, the Abbott family still faces the kind of emotional struggles that any other normal family might have.
- I have nothing but praise for the way John Krasinski was able to take the film's central concept and run with it. The adjustments that the Abbotts need to make to their lives in order to avoid making sound are quite interesting: they eat their food on beds of lettuce, they use cotton balls for board pieces while playing Monopoly, and they never wear shoes. And the fact that the monsters hunt by sound is a unique take on the way that sound is utilized in horror. Normally, loud sounds are associated with jump scares and moments of terror (although I do not condone this for false scares), but here, tension develops from silence as you sit there anxious for when someone accidentally makes a loud noise. In this world, sound is your worst enemy, and one false move means imminent death. Tension results, because the characters are always on edge, and so are we as an audience.
- A Quiet Place's ending isn't all that satisfying, happening in a spot that makes the movie as a whole feel somewhat incomplete. The ending isn't any kind of dumb twist that will ruin the whole experience for you. It's an ending that as soon you see the end credits begin, you will likely say to yourself, "Wait, what? That's it? It ended there?" This is the kind of movie that peaks your curiosity and makes you want to know as much as possible, so it's disappointing when the movie leaves a lot of its questions hanging up in the air, particularly what will happen to the Abbott family.
Despite the rather frustrating ending, A Quiet Place proves to still be a nerve-rattling horror-thriller that turns silence into an instrument of terror. Its idea is original, creative, and a reminder that not all horror has gone down the crapper. The film should also serve as confirmation that John Krasinski has earned his place in the director's chair, and I eagerly await his future directorial works, comedy, horror, or whatever else he goes for.
Recommend? Yes, though the ending is going to polarize people
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: