A Quiet Place review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
Where most movies begin with a bang, A Quiet Place begins in silence. It lingers long for the Abbott family, having survived over 80 days after an apocalyptic event that has wiped out most of humanity. And that quiet must remain if they hope to stay alive. One loud noise, one word uttered, one step too loud, and they’ll find you. Who are they? We’re not sure. What we do know is that they’re blind, have excellent hearing, and can kill you within in an instant if you’re heard.
The Abbott family fights on past the 400th day of the end of the world. They now reside on a farm with nearby communities where it’s become easier to maintain the dedication to the devoid of sound. John Krasinski plays the father, Lee, that has devoted all his energies into keeping his family safe and fighting back the silent killers. He studies up on how to fight back, maintains an array of security cameras, and tries to keep everything in their a house just shy of a whisper. That’s hard enough, but the task becomes even trickier when he has to plan for a baby, as his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) is due soon. Of course, plenty of concerns arise about having a baby during a time of silence. There are answers, but even so, Blunt places a considerable amount of tension to her character’s motherly determination to bring new life into world most dark.
Their kids don’t have the same amount of optimism. The deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) blames herself for a death she could have prevented and despises her father’s constant and failed attempts at developing a hearing aid for her. While her deafness has aided the family well in their use of sign language to stay alive, her disability proves to make her an easier target. Still, she seems to have no problem venturing out on her own and the parents are confident enough that she’ll make it home safe if she ever gets lost. The son Marcus (Noah Jupe) isn’t as downtraughten, but very much afraid when realizing he may have to take over as the hunter of the family. He’s naturally terrified of facing the savage creatures that dwell in the forest, but, just like his sister, he’s aware enough of the rules to make only the most modicum of mistakes.
Krasinski pulls triple duty by starring, co-writing, and directing the film. His filmmaking is smart, creative, and makes great use of the senses. Notice how the story slowly reveals itself over scenes entirely devoid of dialogue. There’s no brief glimpse of what happened on day 1, no overly-long exposition as to where the creatures came from, and not a single word of audible dialogue until twenty minutes into the movie. Krasinski takes the old notion of “show, don’t tell” to heart greatly with a movie that shows so much it almost doesn’t have to tell us anything. From uniquely staged shots, we learn everything about the creatures, the Abbott family, and the rules of staying alive by keeping your mouth shut.
While Krasinski is certainly strong as the worried father, it’s ultimately Emily Blunt who steals the show. When it’s finally time for the baby to come, labor arrives at the most inopportune of moments. For any parent or expecting parents, you’re going to dig your nails into your seat when watching Blunt avoid the creatures stalking her while trying to push out her kid. As a parent myself, it’s easily one of the most nerve-wracking scenes I’ve seen in a horror movie this decade. Her scenes put a whole new spin on Blunt’s gritty action persona and make me appreciate her all the more as an actress of amazing intensity.
A Quiet Places manages to be a frightening horror, an artful display, and a rollercoaster of excitement for being the little creature feature that could. I’m not too sure how it will play out at home for viewing, as the constant drops in the sound make for the most exciting of theater experiences when you can hear everyone in the theater quietly gasp or grit their teeth when the monster is near. Be sure to watch it with friends as their reactions will add an extra level of entertainment. You won’t even have to take your eyes off the screen to know their reaction; you’ll hear it all while your eyes will be mesmerized.