Looking back on horror films of the past, we’ve grown accustomed to loud, ear piercing sounds used as a trigger warning for a scare. Now envision a film where that concept has become opposite, but the scare effectiveness remains. That is what is on the table with John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place. Premises for horror films are so inventive and the very best exploit a filmmaking element and use it to its advantage. From the premise alone, I fell for A Quiet Place hook, line and sinker and after seeing what the film could do with its premise, I’m telling you that what A Quiet Place presents is so imposing and powerful, my eyes widened and stayed that way until the end credits.
This is a different kind of horror experience, one where the key to horror isn’t in the scares or even the suspense, A Quiet Place chooses to translate its horror into dread. Pure dread is what is at play here and we see this through how well the films tense scenarios are played out. We know that creatures exist in this world and that they hunt you if you make a sound, so after we hear a loud sound the anticipation of when the creatures are going to arrive is extremely overwhelming it puts us on edge, the same way the characters are feeling. This is an intensely powerful emotion and with the film going from one bad situation to another, our feeling of dread keeps on climbing.
It’s inevitable that I talk about just how quiet A Quiet Place is and I’m sure a lot of people will have questions like do they talk at any point? Is there music? The answer to all these is yes. While I would have loved a completely voiceless film, I quickly came to realize that not talking would be overkill in a way, not talking would raise more question then it would answer. What I think is the most talented from a filmmaker standpoint is the use of background noise. Right at the beginning of the film you have the children Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Regan (Millicent Simmonds) converse in sign language, Regan is deaf and if you listen closely as the film cuts back and forth between the two you notice that when it cuts to Regan you hear a lot less ambient sound. This is fantastic filmmaking and sound design, by cutting off background noise it gives the impression we are in her perspective so being deaf she wouldn’t hear the wind or rustling of leaves.
The world we are pushed into is one where the extraterrestrial creatures have already overrun the planet, so we get to see through the family’s eyes what it is like to have adapted to this near-apocalyptic world. The performances of John Krasinski and Emily Blunt sell their characters as people who are extremely cautious but determined to live for their children. This is most certainly John Krasinski’s most dramatic performance and one of his best, he provides an engaging father who’s only goal seems to be to protect his family, simple and effective motivations. Millicent Simmonds also gives a very authentic performance from being deaf in the film and in real life.
Throughout the runtime, the story of this family gets worse and worse as we learn new things about them, it makes you question how a family can go through so much and even though they take extreme precautions to stay silent, we still ask how they can possibly survive this new world. these questions are answered to the films simplicity. They’re not trying to make this film an expansive horror series, it’s not taking this post-apocalyptic situation worldwide, everything we know about this world, we know through the family.
The simplistic nature of the story I can see irritating people who like to nitpick at films. there are a lot of questions unanswered, there will be moments where you think why they don’t do this or how can they still have this. With a premise as interesting as A Quiet Place people including myself are going to want to know the broader picture, the best way to enjoy A Quiet Place is to take it for what it is and try not to overthink things, overthinking will ruin the viewing experience.
However, if there is one area where the film did need to expand on its’s the creatures themselves. While imposing in their appearance, we don’t get many details about how big of a threat they really are, only through newspaper headings. We don’t even know if this is a global or national threat and I feel if the film had made this effort the creatures would feel more threatening and dominant.
A horror/thriller film directed by someone known for comedy, where have I seen that before I wonder? But the most part what makes A Quiet Place such a tense ride is the same reason Get Out was successful. People in comedy are experts in timing and that skill can be transferred almost perfectly into tension or scares. A Quiet Place is easily one of the most intense mainstream horror films in the last few years, it is also a fantastic, unique horror/thriller experience that hasn’t been felt in a long time. It’s also a glorious feeling to see mainstream horror so well made in terms of filmmaking elements, the tension on display ranks this films with the big dogs of horror. I’ve never felt tension like it.
Final Result: 9/10 – Excellent
Have you seen A Quiet Place? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Rampage