A Quiet Place, 2018.
Directed by John Krasinski.
Starring John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, and Leon Russom.
In a near future, a family have adapted to living a life of silence in order to avoid detection from a breed of unrelenting creatures who hunt using sound alone.
Annnnnnnnnd relax. You can let go of the armrest now. You’re also free to use more than just the edge of your seat, because A Quiet Place is a cinematic experience akin to a turbulent landing in February winds. It’s also one of the most meticulously crafted, effectively executed pieces of horror entertainment since Neil Marshall threw you down a dark hole in The Descent.
While we’re on genre comparisons, let’s start with the fact that A Quiet Place isn’t entirely original; we’re in similar territory to M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs, right down to the cornfield frights and family dynamics. It’s also the The Last of Us movie meets It Comes At Night, but with monsters over metaphor with regards to the latter. These are not criticisms, if anything they’re parallels that John Krasinski surpasses with his breathless, literally in some cases, as you’re too scared to make a sound, monster mash.
The frights will be what you come for, and they’re here in abundance. There are few better multiplex experiences than quiet punctuated by a scream or a gasp, and A Quiet Place is an exquisite study on how loud that silence can be. The slow cranking up of tension is masterfully unraveled with a broken lamp here, or dropped toy there, right up to the most fist-biting moment of pain suppression since Daniel Stern descended the stairs in Home Alone. Nothing feels lazy. All of the scares are earned. John Krasinski has made something so much more than the ride on a ghost train that most modern horror turns out to be.
Stripping away the horror element for a moment, this wouldn’t have been nearly as effective without the efforts of the cast. There’s minimal backstory beyond the few newspaper cuttings scattered around the home, but we don’t need it, because the performances are so wonderfully natural that you’re immediately invested in their fate.
So as well as directing a film that feels as accomplished as anything from the past decade, seriously, there’s not an ounce of fat on it, Krasinski turns in a performance of fragile desperation, all hidden behind a big beard of stoicism. Even if they didn’t have to be quiet, you get the feeling that he would still be a man of few words. Emily Blunt on the other hand has always been an actor for whom the “they don’t need words to say it” accolade has been applicable, and here she’s incredible as she’s put through the physical and emotional wringer. A special mention too for Millicent Simmonds, who was so charmingly expressive in Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck, and arguably has the most affecting arc in the film.
The final beats might be a bit silly, but take away the monsters, and at its core A Quiet Place is a family drama about grief, with a signed payoff that’s box-of-tissues heartbreaking. The terrifying scares are simply a bonus.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★