Stop for a moment. Just stop reading, put down this newspaper, close your eyes and just listen. We are surrounded by noise, coming from every direction, varying in volume, but no matter where you are, there is always some kind of sound. It could be the humming of something in the wall the function of which you probably do not understand, or it could be the humming of your friend next to you as they bop to the new Cardi B album but regardless, there is always some kind of sound. Now imagine if every one of those sounds could kill you.
This is the premise of John Krasinski’s new horror film “A Quiet Place” and it is executed amazingly, especially considering this is Krasinski’s first time helming a film. Krasinski is best known for his role as Jim Halpert in the NBC sitcom “The Office,” so this is a stark departure for him from the perception that many viewers may have of him.
The film follows Lee and Evelyn Abbott, played by Krasinski and Emily Blunt respectively, as they try to protect their children and survive in a world where they are constantly hunted by creatures who are blind but have acute, far-range hearing capabilities. As a result the movie is appropriately quiet and dialogue is sparse, but in the end this just allows the actors to flex their acting muscles even more and convey more with even less and they all manage to succeed. There is not a single lackluster performance in this film, even from the younger actors. The film explores some interesting and creative territory in a unique way and adds in multiple twists on the genre to prevent it from falling into the pitfalls of cliche horror.
To avoid spoilers, which is definitely recommended for this film, characters have to deal with some unforeseen and inventive challenges that keep the plot interesting but also drive the story. It is not giving away too much to say that the daughter of the family, Reagan, played by Millicent Simmonds, is deaf. This brings with it a series of challenges but also means that the Abbotts are all familiar with American Sign Language and are able to use it to communicate with one another without making noise, which contributes heavily to their ability to survive.
Simmonds does an excellent job in her role, and does an excellent job of portraying a deaf character authentically. This is unsurprising when you find out that Simmonds is actually deaf, which is just one of the many instances of attention to detail that make this movie stand out. Rather than get an actress to pretend to be deaf, they instead opted for representation, which the deaf community seldom gets. This alone makes the film feel more authentic and heartfelt, feelings that are often absent in big studio horror films.
Another big thing that this film does excellently is show how self aware it is. Often in horror movies the viewer is constantly berated with overly dramatic music, jump scares and poorly written dialogue, but “A Quiet Place” does not fall into these traps. Instead the film is uneasily quiet, in a way that you notice at first but eventually get sucked into. Music will back certain action scenes but much of the movie is scenic background noise. The characters communicate using ASL primarily and only talk when they are safe to do so or something goes disastrously wrong. The film explores this in some very compelling ways but to get into specifics would give too much away.
The other important factor to note is just how well directed this film is by Krasinski. He obviously poured his heart and soul into this project and it shows through the script, his performance, as well as those of his co-stars, and the beautiful cinematography. Casting Emily Blunt, Krasinski’s real wife, as his wife in the film meant there was a real chemistry between these two people who love each other and just want to protect one another. It made their situation believable, which made the stakes higher and the world feel more real.
“A Quiet Place” is a special movie and one that will definitely benefit from a viewing on a big screen. Even if you are not a huge fan of horror, there is so much good stuff going on in this film that it is worth seeing.