John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place tells the story of the Abbott family who lives in almost complete silence since aliens have landed from outer space. Three of these beasts live close to the Abbott’s home so the family has restructured their lives to being as quiet as possible, since the creatures hunt by sound. A large enough sound and they can run you down and eat you in seconds. As the film opens, it is day eighty-nine. They have come into town to forage for supplies and medicine for one of their children who is sick. We meet the Abbotts. Evelyn (Emily Blunt) is the caring mother, Lee (John Krasinski) is the always vigilant father, Regan (Millicent Simmonds) is their hearing impaired daughter and Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward) are the two sons. A lot of people to try an keep quiet.
A Quiet Place then flashes forward several hundreds of days later and the family is still laboring to keep the noise down. Evelyn is now pregnant and the family unit is a bit frayed. The strain of living with the constant threat of these horrific creatures has taken its toll on the Abbott family, but they have persevered under incredible odds. John Krasinski does a terrific job of making sure every detail is covered for this plot to hold up. They have learned sign language in order to have any conversations, at all. Instead of plates and utensils they eat off of beds of lettuce and with their fingers. If they play board games they use pieces of cloth and roll the dice on carpeting. Only when they trek to a loud waterfall do they even speak or yell at the top of their lungs to cut loose a bit. There is even a scene when Lee (Krasinski) tells his son Marcus (Noah Jupe) that small sounds are okay, just not the big sounds.
A Quiet Place is probably the best horror/thriller film I have seen since The Babadook in 2014. Krasinski has created a terrifying film but it is not about the creatures. It is about the Abbott family and Krasinski spends most of the time on fleshing out his characters. He has also wisely cast his real-life wife, Emily Blunt, as his wife in the film so it gives an authentic feel for their situation. He also cast Millicent Simmonds as his hearing impaired daughter and she is hearing impaired in real-life as well due to a medication overdose when she was a baby. But these are characters that are not exploited. They represented as what anyone with these kinds of limitations can expect when they are living with an almost impossible situation. Life is difficult but they manage.
As I said, A Quiet Place has left almost no stone unturned. Director Krasinski has really created a horrifying film with tension that runs from the first scene to the last scene. It is extremely well acted by everyone, relying on the personalities of the characters, a well thought out plot, and a script penned by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck and Mr. Krasinski, himself, that focuses on the characters and not on the beasts. But even, the beasts are rather inventively conceived. One of my complaints about Hollywood and horror films, in general are that they spend so much money on the bad guys and the visual effects that the story and the characters and the script suffer. They get lost in a maze of CGI and jump scares. That is not the case with A Quiet Place.
This is a well paced, intelligent and superbly crafted thriller from start to finish. Mr. Krasinski has created a truly suspenseful film, smartly using (or not) using special audio sounds and effects to give the sense of living in a quiet world where any noise loud enough could be your demise. When there are any sounds they are jarring as they would be in this situation. Krasinski knows that it is the characters that drive this film and he knows how and where to place the camera for maximum affect. Marco Beltrami’s score is a perfect fit for this film and does not overwhelm the action on screen. It is beautiful in the quiet moments giving the whole film a sense of love that this family has for each other. I almost immediately connected to this family and cared about what happened to them.
With a budget of only seventeen million dollars, A Quiet Place opened to a box office of fifty million dollars, which is spectacular. Movies like A Quiet Place need to be rewarded. Special films like these are so far and few between and with a run time of ninety minutes A Quiet Place is timed and cut together almost perfectly. One might make the case it is too short. Regardless, it knows what it wants to do and does it in the time it has allotted. Very few films accomplish what John Krasinski has done with A Quiet Place. This is one of the best films of the year.
A Quiet Place – ****1/2 out of 5
A Quiet Place – Rated PG-13 for scenes of terror, brief gore and language
A Quiet Place – Run time is 90 minutes