Lee (John Krasinski) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) Abbott have one simple goal: keep their children safe. When the world is overtaken by predatory creatures who track their victims strictly through sound, this family has to rely on the most unique of survival instincts and methods to stay alive. Make a loud noise and these disgusting things will hunt you down like Liam Neeson.
A Quiet Place, directed and co-written by Krasinski, is easily the scariest film I’ve seen in years and an early candidate for best film of the year. What you have here is an emotionally-driven horror film with the most organic suspense that moviegoers have seen in the past decade. Alfred Hitchcock would have adored this film’s setup and follow-through.
Coming in at a lean 90 minutes, Krasinski and company don’t waste a minute of your time, grabbing your attention in the first five minutes with a gripping sequence that sets the tone for the rest of the experience. I dare you to check your phone or use the restroom during this movie. If you must leave the theater for an unforeseen reason, I hope you were a sprinter in high school, because you will miss something.
The story takes place in the near future. The Abbotts have posted up in the woods near a small town and their set-up rivals an oversized bomb shelter. Lee lays sand on the path up to the house, and there is a lighting system set up to alert the family for immediate dangers. The oldest kid, Regan (a dynamite Millicent Simmonds) is hearing impaired, and the film has a little fun with the devices that Lee designs to help his daughter’s hearing. Marcus (Noah Jupe) is terrified of the possibilities, even when Lee tries to calm him on father-son hunting missions.
While they are limited in their ability to show affection, Lee and Evelyn are still warm towards each other, a transformation of a marriage that clings to the most tender elements amid the current predicament. All they have is each other. No one else is coming.
I loved the stubbornness of the script. Do we know how this all started? No. Do we see any other families? No. Is there a rescue mission coming? Nope. You don’t need details to put yourself in the Abbott’s shoes. A Quiet Place doesn’t want to get too complicated or throw in familiar Hollywood manifestations to move things alone. This film isn’t in a rush and doesn’t need any subplots to get its point across. The thrills come quick and you will jump out of your seat more than once.
The suspense generated here is organic, meaning everything that occurs is meticulous and for a reason. You don’t need much distraction when the monsters are terrifying enough and the filmmakers are bold enough to give the audience the inclination that no character is safe from harm. Does everyone make it out alive? No way.
M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs came to mind as I watched the film, due to the usage of long winding country roads and farm land serving as the battleground between humans and creatures. Make no mistake: it is a battle of good and evil here. Krasinski, along with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, use simplicity to guide their shock and awe operation.
They let silent voices, outside sound effects, and sudden abrupt jolts do the heavy lifting. The Abbott’s use sign language as their main form of communication, so don’t expect much talking.
Watching this film felt like being transported to an alternate universe that looked and sounded just like mine, but was wholly original at the same time. The best movies transport you without the use of special effects or an overload of showmanship. It’s the audience’s ability to easily relate to the struggles of the characters in A Quiet Place that ratchets up the suspense.
This film is full of “great” scenes. Evelyn trying to hide the screaming pain of contractions as a monster crawls behind her is some of Emily Blunt’s best work. Krasinski puts on his everyman clothing again to play the resourceful but vulnerable Lee, a man driven by the need to save his family, yet worn down by survival. Simmonds fares the best of the kids, but every character gets their moment against the creatures. No one is shoved to the side in the climatic moments of this movie. When someone steps on a nail and you hear the creatures blazing through the crops and into the house, you’ll shriek in horror. The natural scary stuff works to perfection in A Quiet Place.
With this film, Krasinski, who also directed 2016’s family drama, The Hollars, makes a name for himself as an auteur. He’s a fine actor who can do a lot with a little, but the directing chops he shows off here usually come from a seasoned eye and not a relatively earnest rookie. The directing and cinematography are the standouts in the film.
I could go on and on about this wonderful film, because I’m still processing it and dissecting it, but that would spoil the marvelous treats that should be discovered by you. I’ll tell you this: when the film was over, I wanted to watch it again right away. I wanted to go back and experience the scares, thrills, and emotion of the experience again, like a person getting punched and feeling truly alive for the first time.
Being a parent and husband, I placed myself directly in Lee’s shoes, so the film became something powerful for me as a family man. When you decide to become a parent, your life becomes secondary to your kid’s life. That’s the way it works and this film explores that ideal to the core through a thriller’s makeup.
2018 hasn’t seen a better film than A Quiet Place. While the Oscars will ignore it due to its genre contraptions, I seriously hope you pay it a visit. This is a movie that anyone can walk into and appreciate. It’s not a reboot, remake, or sequel. It’s inspired by our everyday reality and our deepest fears.
A Quiet Place will scare the crap out of you and connect emotionally at the same time. Wow is all I can say to wrap this review up. Wow.