Actor John Krasinski, best known as Jim from the television series “The Office”, may seem like an obvious choice to helm a horror film, but judging by the quality of “A Quiet Place”, he’s got a bright future in scary movies.
Starring, co-written, and directed by Krasinski, “A Quiet Place” follows a family attempting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world populated by creatures of unknown origin who hunt by sound. The father (Krasinski) and mother (Emily Blunt) have tailored the life of their children (Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds, and Cade Woodward) to become one of total silence to avoid the gruesome fate that’s befallen the rest of the world.
As they go about their day-to-day life, tragedy strikes, and the family is left rattled as try to pick up the pieces.However, their efforts appear to be in vain as the creatures surrounding their shelter start to close in, leaving the family- split apart for reasons best left experienced- to make one final stand.
One of the reasons “A Quiet Place” works so well is because of the family itself. Real-life husband and wife Krasinski and Blunt carry their considerable chemistry into the movie, while the actors playing their children are even better. Specifically, the choice to cast deaf actress Simmonds as the daughter really pays off, as she’s able to emote through sign language in a way that the rest of the cast fall just short of.
The screenplay, co-written by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, explores the family intimately, playing on the idea of the balance between trying to keep one’s kids safe and letting them have their individuality. The world-building here is quite phenomenal, relying purely on clues in the environment- like a newspaper, graffiti, a tombstone- to leave the audience to fill in the gaps of how the world got to the way it is.Yet, what the screenplay and the film as a whole really excels in is the main attraction: the horror.
One would never guess that Krasinski’s previous two films were comedy-dramas, because he handles terror and suspense with the confidence of a genre veteran. Set piece after set piece are handled flawlessly, as the family fights against some truly nasty creatures. A sequence where Emily Blunt’s character tries to stay quiet while giving birth is ingenious, while there’s a Hitchcockian element involving a nail left out on the stairs and a gorgeous brawl amongst fireworks are all enhanced by the equally gorgeous cinematography from Charlotte Bruus Christensen.
Kranski comes up with nearly every unique set-up he can with these creatures, which are truly nasty- though awesome- creations of Industrial Light & Magic. The long-limbed, almost alien, design, is similar to a Swiss Army Knife with all of its slimy moving parts.
None of this would work without the sound design. Accompanied intermittently by Marco Beltrami’s thumping score, every sound is this movie is distinct, and the paranoia of any noise cutting through the silence to draw in the creatures is palpable. Similar to the setpieces, different combinations of noises are used to great effect and really help flesh out the weaknesses & strengths of the creatures.
By the time the ending credits have rolled, the audience is completely jostled in the best way possible. Krasinski, his cast, and his crew have managed to take a simple, effective concept and milk it for all its worth in a film that feels completely fresh for the horror genre.
The characters in “A Quiet Place” aren’t able to speak much, but the audience who sees it will be talking about it for months.
“A Quiet Place”
Running Time: 95 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Score: 4.5/5 stars