A Quiet Place is a high concept horror movie that leaves the viewer hanging on the slightest of sounds, ratcheting up the tension from the opening scene and barely relenting throughout. Directed by John Krasinski, it centres on a family trying to survive in a post apocalyptic world where monsters detect and hunt based on sound. It’s a great concept that the movie revels with during the run time. John Krasinski plays Lee, the father of the family with Emily Blunt playing Evelyn, his wife. Their two children are played by Millicent Simmons as their deaf daughter Regan and Noah Jupe as their son Marcus.
Being largely silent, this film relies heavily on the sound design, and thankfully this is an area it succeeds resoundingly. What the soundscape helps do is permeate the film with a sense of dread and remind you of the constant threat than hangs over them, bringing you in to the plight of this family. You’ll clench your fists and feel your pulse race when they inevitably make mistakes. The film, for the most part, effectively utilises the jump scare, seeing as it actually makes narrative sense here. However, there are a fair few instances where it felt cheap. Not having that loud noise play to artificially frighten the viewer would have been more effective. This isn’t something unique to this film as it’s prevalent in modern horror movies but I wish directors would have the confidence to not indulge in the cheap jump scare and let these moments play out naturally, letting the visuals create fear.
The film starts out really strong, setting up the brutal world and showing how much of a threat the monsters are. It’s certainly one of the more memorable openings to a horror movie I’ve seen recently. It continues well, with the first two acts being really solid. The ways in which the family reduce noise in order to get by in their day to day lives was well thought out and communicated visually rather than doled out in forced exposition. John Krasinski, in combination with cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen, display nice touches of visual storytelling such as crisps and pills being left on the shelves at a supermarket or lighting beacons to communicate with nearby survivors. These touches add more credence to the world without feeling forced.
In theory, the commitment to such large portions of the film having no spoken dialogue would allow the few moments where characters speak to be more powerful, however some of the dialogue in these scenes was cheesy and quite on the nose. Instances where the characters bluntly explain certain ideas the film was already doing a great job of presenting were unnecessary. Still, the script is impressively lean here with little bloat, with almost everything being set up and paid off later.
The performances are impressive too, with some nice nuances that add depth. The subtle resentment Lee displays towards his daughter, Regan, is handled well and shown through glances and the body language rather than having it shoved in your face… Right up until the son brings it up with some stilted dialogue. Emily Blunt convinces as the grieving mother and really shines in the films standout sequence that crescendos wonderfully. The eldest daughter is also pretty great here, believably playing the stubborn and difficult adolescent girl. It’s refreshing that they were able to cast a deaf girl in the role, allowing the performance to feel more natural.
The final act of the film is weaker than what precedes with some contrivances and cheese, but not enough to derail the overall experience. The films resolution makes so much logical sense that it makes you wonder how the characters haven’t thought to try it before, especially since attention is given to the father’s research into the creatures. In addition to this, certain moments towards the end didn’t land as strong as they should, largely due to the cheesy dialogue. However, the final shot of the film is brilliantly tongue in cheek.
In summary, this is a solid and tautly made film that showcases John Krasinski’s talents behind the camera. It’s not without its issues but it’s commitment to its unique concept is commendable and it remains sufficiently tense throughout its run time, making it an enjoyable and delightfully stressful trip to the cinema.