Movie Review: A Quiet Place

A clever horror film puts a small cast into endless silence

A Quiet Place
Directed by John Krasinski
With Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe

The world of the future seems like a bleak place. The post-apocalyptic horror film A Quiet Place adds a new twist. People have to be absolutely silent.

The film itself has long silent stretches as a family in an isolated farm tries to survive. Exactly what they are trying to avoid is not clear at first. An old newspaper headline, seemingly the last edition delivered, warns about noise. And since it is the New York Post, it gives a hint as to where the story takes place. The local town is abandoned, but store shelves still have a lot of items. Whatever happened must have been pretty quick.

The main characters and the cast is very small, communicates largely with American Sign Language. For the audience in Czech theaters, this is given Czech subtitles. Much of what they say is fairly simple, such as, “Are you OK?” or discussing what to do next, which they then do. One brief but important passage late in the film is spoken. But even if you miss a few of the lines, the suspense should come through.

While A Quiet Place is a horror film, it does not rely on a huge body count and gruesome scenes. A growing sense of fear and claustrophobia, punctuated by a few jolts is what the film is going for.

John Krasinski is the driving force behind the film. He executive produced, co-wrote, directed and starred in it. He is best-known for appearing in and directing the US version of the TV series The Office, a comedy that is quite different in its tone.

Krasinski is married to his co-star in A Quiet Place, Emily Blunt. This can be a recipe for disaster — someone wearing too many hats working with relatives. But the film does not come off as a vanity project.

Krasinski and Blunt, as Lee and Evelyn Abbott, do have a rapport with one another that comes across without words. They have several children, including Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe). Simmonds was in the film Wonderstruck, and Jupe is known for the miniseries Night Manager and the film Suburbicon.

To avoid being heard, the family lives much of the time in a basement, creating a trapped feeling. They have devised many ways to do everything without a sound, and their resourcefulness makes them very sympathetic. The family is not giving up, even though everyone else in the world seems to have vanished.

The 2016 film 10 Cloverfield Lane worked on a similar principle, with people trapped in a fallout shelter. In that case though, the danger was on the inside.

The suspense in A Quiet Place is increased when family members have to venture outside. Taking cues from other classic horror films, the danger largely remains unseen for much of the film, which lets the audience use their imaginations.

Due to the silent nature of the film, there is not a lot of explanation about what has happened to cause the post-apocalyptic state that the world is in. The characters don't have the opportunity to sit around and talk about the past. There are no flashbacks or other scenes to fill in the gaps. The situation is just presented as the real people have to deal with.

The screenplay is clever and avoids the stereotypical scenes where characters do incredibly stupid things just so there can be more blood and gore. There are some violent scenes but they make sense given the situation.

The film does have a musical score, and ambient sound, so it is not some sort of experimental project.

There have been a number of disappointing horror films recently, such as The Bye Bye Man, Snowman and Truth or Dare. Many highly anticipated works have turned out to be disappointments.

A Quiet Place is perhaps the best horror film since Get Out, with a clever and original script plus taught directing and solid acting. A Quiet Place, though, has no humor which makes it a bit unrelenting, and no deeper message. But it delivers on its premise.

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