A Quiet Place (2018)
Written by Bryan Woods & Scott Beck and John Krasinski
Directed by John Krasinski
Humanity is near extinction in the wake of a violent species that has emerged on the planet. These creatures are blind but possess super sensitive hearing. The film focuses on the Abbott family who lives on a farm in a rural community. They have spent over a year living in this violent new reality and have adapted, sprinkling well-trod paths with sand to soften their footsteps and building a soundproof bunker under their barn. Their eldest child, Regan is deaf and due to a lack of resources her damaged cochlear implant has become useless making her very vulnerable. The matriarch Evelyn is pregnant and due in a few weeks so this becomes an issue of vital importance, the family prepping a soundproof box to hide the newborn in when they arrive. But as often happens in movies like these things begin to go wrong very quickly.
The trailers for A Quiet Place did an excellent job selling the movie by keeping things sparse and atmospheric. Thankfully the film lives up to this promise and is helped because of the presentation. There is some spoken dialogue but the majority is communicated through sign language, and even then we rely on what the camera chooses to show us. This is a damn good example of the old script writing adage “show don’t tell.” The complicated relationships between family members are shared with the audience through glances and reactions. It’s the very type of acting I adore and pulls me deep into a film.
A Quiet Place also chooses to explain nothing in detail which I love. What these creatures are and where they came from is never addressed, and that is very realistic. This is a family in a rural farm region. From the few newspapers, we see in scraps in the father’s workshop in the basement; we know that these monsters began attacking people and it was eventually discovered they used sound to hunt. Looking at the state of things during the film, we can tell that civilization has collapsed. And that is all we need to know. While the film sells itself and audiences likely perceive this as a monster movie, I see it like a man vs. nature story. The creatures don’t have personalities, and so they are presented more like a force of nature, mindless destruction.
A Quiet Place’s first and second acts are fabulous. The pre-title screen scene genuinely shocked me, and once I saw where the movie was willing to go and knew this would be a good one. The film is very economical about its action and violence and attaches sturdy emotional weight to these scenes. Sometimes, one scene in particular in the third act, they can get a bit melodramatic but overall director Krasinski manages the tone of the film remarkably well. Numerous tense set pieces aren’t overly long. If you look at many current action and horror pictures, they often have these meticulously constructed scenes that you can tell the director has spent a lot of time on and wants to take up a considerable proportion of the picture. Not so with A Quiet Place, characters end up in tense situations where the creatures are present, and they resolve these moments in a matter of minutes.
As a modern full release horror film, A Quiet Place is pretty close to perfect. I prefer movies like Hereditary but understand that most audiences find such an intense horror experience unpleasant. A Quiet Place doesn’t shirk from being a horror picture with deadly stakes; it walks the fine line between hope and despair. While I don’t enjoy John Krasinski too much as an actor, he has duly impressed me as a director, and I look forward to what he makes next.