A Quiet Place: A White-Knuckle Horror With Heart
Review by Aaron Haughton
Who would've thought that John Krasinski — Jim from The Office — had a horror film in him? Let alone one as tense and carefully crafted as A Quiet Place?! It's the blindside that we all need, and one that people will likely compare to Jordan Peele's magnificent Get Out in the sense that both are comedic actors turned writer/director who surprised everyone with one hell of a horror film experience. Krasinski's A Quiet Place, which he co-wrote Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, doesn't offer the social commentary that makes Peele's Get Out so fantastic, but it does provide genuine moments of pure white-knuckle tension, similar to Don't Breathe, 10 Cloverfield Lane or It Comes at Night, with a heavy dose of heart.
The film is incredibly tight for a 90 minute feature, but still works slowly and methodically to set up the story and the characters that make up the surviving family members (played by John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe, and Millicent Simmonds), giving us enough time to form an emotional connection to them before the true horror unfolds.
The film opens on day 68 in the wake of the post-apocalyptic disaster that we as viewers have yet to fully understand. It isn't until the family makes their trek back home after scavenging for food and supplies that we truly understand the terrors that lurk and the consequences of not staying silent. We then flash forward to day 472, where the family is struggling to cope with the tragedy that befell in the opening scene. How they deal with this traumatic event, in addition to the threat that lurks in the woods, is the primary focus in this lean and well executed monster movie.
Just as its name implies, A Quiet Place revels in silence, and only contains a handful of spoken dialogue. Instead, much of the film's dialogue is communicated via sign language accompanied by subtitles. Even then, the dialogue is sparse, and similar to westerns, the film relies on facial expressions and body language to get the points across. The use of pure silence is fantastic, and makes for some moments of pure grade-A filmmaking. At times, the use of silence even intensifies what is already an incredibly tense scene; however, while the film holds back on dialogue, it's also not entirely comfortable in its silence either. The score that plays underneath a large portion of the film is obtrusive in that typical horror way that hams on the suspense, taking away the vitality of select scenes whenever the composer queues a jump scare. However, the film's crowing feature is its sound design, which is virtuosic in every way, effectively creating a soundscape of terror that can be felt to the core.
Krasinski's direction harks back to classic Hollywood films, utilizing a lot of dolly and crane moves much in the same way that Spielberg does. In a lot of ways, A Quiet Place has a Jaws vibe in the sense that the horrors lying in wait remain largely unseen, and the overall story is about this family and how work through situations. Similarly, Krasinski's direction has a Hitchcock quality to it as well, which in turn gives it the feel of a more polished, less eye-roll inducing Signs. However, the thing Krasinski does the best throughout the film is by continually findings ways to outdo himself; the film just gets better and better, anteing up each scene of tension, winding the string tighter and tighter until it snaps to an adrenaline pumping close.
Overall, A Quiet Place effectively attaches you to its central characters and delivers a thrill ride that will have you clinging to your seat. The film is shrouded in the kinda mystery that largely remains unanswered, but it finds interesting and intelligent ways to deliver information and doesn't overly spoon feed. The film opens on April 6th, and it's one you don't want to miss out on. Definitely see this in a theater setting with the biggest crowd possible (so, basically on opening weekend).
Rating: 4.0 shushes outta 5.
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