This will put you off ever wanting to use the silent treatment again…
A Quiet Place welcomes you to the Abbott family in the most unwelcoming of environments over the course of 3 months in 2020. Most of the population has been wiped out due to alien-like predators that hunt their prey on sound; they are blind yet all it takes is one noise. On day 89 of the Abbott’s journey, we witness how devastating life in dystopian New York really can be.
Made up of dad Lee (John Krakinski); wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and their two children Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe); a year later , Evelyn is heavily pregnant and they have cleverly set up home within a protected farm. The impending arrival of their new-born baby looks set to provide more challenges that the Abbott’s need to overcome and we come along for the thrilling ride.
What scares you most when watching a horror film? Is it lashings of murder and gore or perhaps a creepy clown re-living a childhood trauma? For me, it’s the building of tension that leads to a sudden change of scene; aka a jump scare. I’m not a very good person to sit next to but at least you know the desired effect is being achieved and with A Quiet Place, it definitely was! Directed by Krasinski, he also developed the screenplay with horror experts Bryan Woods and Scott Beck. As his first feature film, he has produced a worthy tribute to the genre with an ambitious storyline that is executed marvellously.
As a world of noise where we never slow down to take a quiet moment, a film almost entirely in silence seems far-fetched; rather it’s so different it’s good from the get-go. It gives us time to study the film, study the characters and really analyse what is happening in the story. Although hardly any background is given on how these creatures invaded Earth, it unfolds that they are blind reptilian predators with advanced hearing and size to out-do any human. You stay silent – you stay alive. This constant hyper-alert way of living transfers so well to the viewing audience; it’s 90 minutes of pure anticipation.
Real life couple Krasinski and Blunt are the heads of this survivalist family who learn the hard way how easy it is to slip up in this unforgiving world (no spoilers) Whether it be from food, electronics or even walking, the threat is high constantly. We see a brutal example of what the threat entails toward the beginning of the film; a man with seemingly nothing left, commits suicide by shouting. A clever detail however is that their daughter Regan (Simmonds) is deaf so the entire family communicate through sign language; Simmonds is deaf in real life which is a nice touch. It appears they have their bases covered with a fortified home and a disciplined way of living but a challenge presents itself as the story continues; Evelyn’s pregnant.
A new horror is on the way; how do you manipulate keeping a baby silent when all it can do is cry and scream? Although completely illogical from a character’s perspective, it’s a bloody great screwball within the story as it’s another plot device to create tension. When will she give birth? Will we see a baby get eaten alive? Very exciting stuff…With the addition of a few other nail-biting moments; such as a nail sticking up out of a floorboard or an unsuspecting flood in their basement; the simplicity and variety of what can terrify you is something we haven’t seen in a horror/thriller for a long time. It’s a back to basics thriller that doesn’t overcomplicate; the fear isn’t focused on the monsters but more so what a lot of us are scared of; uncertainty.
The acting is just superb; the conveyance of a million different emotions purely through eye contact or facial expressions is one I will always be in awe of. Blunt in particular, has this glow around her which just excels her to the forefront of this film. Another focal point is undoubtedly the score; helmed by Marco Beltrami who has composed for Scream, Logan & The Hurt Locker to name a few; this element is what actually takes this from a good to a great horror. When sitting in complete silence, you nervously await what sounds are going to shock you back into reality; only with Beltrami’s work it terrifies you back. Use this metaphor; rather than being a drop in the ocean, the music enters like Andre The Giant has just dive-bombed from a 10ft board.
Kraskini’s visual story telling is beautifully composed so the high risk of complacency with such a lack of dialogue doesn’t happen. Every shot has been carefully considered; a combination between well timed, un-exaggerated scares or the growth of emotional intensity between characters. I have purposely left out details about the content because if you have an expectation, you predict what’s going to happen; and what kind of fun is that whilst watching a horror!
A Quiet Place certainly lives up to the ambitious task it set’s itself. A cast that absorb you into their world and an intriguing premise that’s’ cleverly portrayed through great story telling. Krasinski and co have created a simple masterpiece with old fashioned elements that paints it as a fantastic ode to the genre it stems from.
As an avid The Walking Dead fan, the film has mightily similar elements but the main difference being the larger than life enemies of course. Even if you are the worst horror film watcher, this is definitely worth sitting through the anxiety for it; and as someone who actually has anxiety, I don’t say that lightly!
4 out of 5 alien beasties