Movie Review - A Quiet Place
Updated: May 9, 2018
I'm always super nervous about plopping down $10 for a ticket on the opening night of a new horror release. Not because of the content of the movie itself (it takes a lot to really get to me)...no, it's basically because lately, the folks making the trailers seem to do a better job at making what's on the screen enjoyable than the directors of the actual films themselves. It Comes at Night? Great trailer...not so great execution. The Witch? Again, great trailer and concept (and wonderful acting), but significantly lacking in the scares. It's easy enough to head into an action movie (even if MI: Fallout doesn't deliver the goods, there will still be shit blowing up, so it's still a win). But there are some genres that just require a bit more of a deft touch, and horror is definitely one of them. Bad/cheesy horror is easy...good horror is not.
So it was quite a relief to find that A Quiet Place is firmly in the latter category. I've not seen John Krasinski's other directorial efforts, but he accomplishes something remarkable with this, his third movie, and I am eager to see what project he tackles next.
Starting out about a third of a year after an incident/invasion involving...some kind of creatures, A Quiet Place wastes very little time in establishing who our core cast of characters are, and also makes sure to establish the core conceit...sound is deadly. We have barely met our protagonists (mostly nameless until the end credits), before tragedy strikes. Flash forward more than a year later, and we get introduced to our main characters properly. The weight of the initial tragedy is still carried, in various ways, by this isolated family as they struggle to stay safe in a world where any loud noise could mean instant death. As the stakes get higher (there's an upcoming pregnancy, not exactly a quiet event), our family must overcome the fractures within, and the threat of the monsters without, in order to stay alive.
While ostensibly a movie about monsters (blind, but with incredible hearing), the real focus of A Quiet Place is on the family of survivors. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt do a wonderful job in portraying ordinary people stuck in an extraordinary circumstance. They must convey a lot of emotion with minimal dialogue, and they pull it off quite well, to the surprise of nobody. These are seasoned actors, and as a real-life couple, they are perfectly comfortable together. The child actors also acquit themselves well, especially Millicent Simmonds as the daughter. Her character is deaf, which explains why her family is so proficient at sign language. And it's a good thing they are. Death comes swiftly in A Quiet Place, and none of our characters are safe. The fear in Krasinki's characters eyes when admonishing his children to be quiet when the creatures are near is palpable. Having a solid roster of actors is absolutely vital in a film like this, as aside from one brief moment, there are no other characters in the movie.
I don't think a movie like this would have worked if it didn't stick to the core concept so doggedly. Our characters rarely actually get a chance to speak, and when they can, it has to be masked by ambient noise. They walk barefoot on pathways of sand to hide their footfalls. Stairs are travelled with extra care, and every motion is slow and deliberate. They don't use plates when they eat...and so on. Noise, when it does happen, is extra loud and jarring. While there is a score, it is minimalistic, though still effective. Everything about the movie is designed to highlight that "silence is safety". I have to say that it achieves that goal remarkably well; my preview night audience was at least 50% teenagers on Spring Break, and aside from a few giggles and unnecessary theater selfies, everyone was well-behaved and largely quiet.
As for the creatures themselves, Krasinski wisely keeps them obscured for the majority of the film; we only catch snippets and glances until the last 4th of the film. When we finally get our full view of them (alien/monster/other?), they are genuinely creepy and frightening, and terrifyingly effective at showing up at the absolute worst times.
All those positives aside, there are a few missteps, but nothing that derails the film. A hallway cluttered with hanging pictures, just waiting for an errant shoulder to knock them clattering to the ground? Seems like a serious oversight. And as usual, a few of the character's choices are questionable, but such is par for the course for scary movies. Again, these are minor quibbles at best.
Ultimately, A Quiet Place is a well executed and finely acted scary movie, with a cool concept that it wholeheartedly commits to. It fully delivers on the promise of the trailer, which so few horror movies can claim anymore. See it in the theater if at all possible, especially a later showing with minimal attendees. I really loved it, and I hope you do too!
Sexiness 1/10 Absolutely nothing to note. This is not that kind of movie.
Thespianism 8/10 Takes talent to act without words, and the cast nails it.
Atmosphere 8/10 Oppressive & tense, and pulls no punches with the danger.
Blood/Gore 3/10 Not much of note; birth blood and a punctured foot.
Soundtrack 4/10 Nothing that stands out, but then I don't think it is meant to.