A QUIET PLACE Review by Tom Bielby
Silence is a powerful tool in the arsenal of any film-maker, particularly those who venture into the horror genre. Moments of silence can escalate the tension; increasing both the sense of dread and the fear that something unexpected (and potentially horrible) is about to happen. Choosing to tell a story like A QUIET PLACE, in a setting where being silent is a prerequisite to survival is a bold decision – if a film is predominantly quiet, would this diminish the effectiveness of the build up to any of its scares?
John Krasinski’s bold decision to direct and star in such a film for his first horror outing alongside his wife Emily Blunt, has paid off, proving that an almost constantly silent backdrop can enhance a suspenseful atmosphere. The unusual setting of a near future where blind creatures with sensitive hearing prey upon any humans foolish enough to make a sound provides the perfect stepping stone for an intense and unrelenting journey – a thrill ride that will leave you pinned to the seat, jaw agape, for the best part of its run time.
The intriguing opening shots set the scene as a tight-knit family unit (The Abbotts) explore a long abandoned store in the hope of finding supplies, whilst taking every care to avoid making a single sound. Their oldest daughter, Regan is deaf and the family use sign language to communicate; a clear indicator that this has helped them to survive for so long in such an unforgiving environment. Soon after they leave the store we get a brief glimpse of the unknown evil that has decimated humanity, and this sets the tone for the horror that is to come, as we witness a startling incident that pushes the Abbott family close to breaking point.
Apart from the attention grabbing start, the majority of the action takes place at an isolated farmstead where Evelyn (Blunt) and Lee (Krasinski) have tried to create a new life for their children, sheltered away from the creatures that lurk outside. The surrounding fields are illuminated with lights that can be used to signal danger and Lee has set up a surveillance system from his hub in the basement. Evelyn is heavily pregnant and, despite her husband’s best preparations, their peaceful existence is eventually shattered, plunging the whole family into a jaw dropping fight for survival.
The Horror Escalates
There are times when the sparse soundtrack gives way to ambient music, and these instances provide a welcome break from the relentless feeling of anxiety we experience along with the protagonists in their silent world. Every single sound we hear provokes a reaction, with the intensity of the noises rising as the horror escalates, preying on our fears of the unknown. The sound design is a huge part of why the film works so well; drawing the audience into the frightening environment and enhancing the sheer terror of the character’s encounters with the strange creatures.
Horror films often have the propensity to run out of steam once the unknown menace that stalks their protagonists is revealed but this is certainly not the case for A Quiet Place. As well as the first rate work on the sound editing, A Quiet Place boasts some of the most inventive creature design the horror genre has seen in a long time. CGI does play a part in their realisation but the creature’s movements and behaviour convey a sense of realism that is entirely convincing, and often terrifying.
Praying for the Family
Another key aspect to the film’s success is the charm and charisma of its cast – Krasinski has developed well-rounded characters and taken the script along a route that channels our empathy and leaves us praying that the family makes it through their turmoil intact. Both Millicent Simmonds (Regan) and Noah Jupe (Marcus) display an innocent vulnerability that makes it impossible not to care for their safety, and Blunt and Krasinski deliver powerful, unrestrained performances that will leave a lasting mark in your memory.
This is an exceptional horror film, and one that deserves to be seen on the big screen to maximise the intensity of the experience. If Krasinski follows up A Quiet Place with another nail-biting genre flick then I will inevitably be first in line to see what he can conjure up for us next.
Dir. John Krasinski, US, 2018, 90 mins, cert. 15
Cast: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, leon Russom