A Quiet Place stars John Krasinski as Lee Abbott a father and husband trying to protect his family in a post-apocalyptic future. It’s 89 days since monsters of unknown origin began attacking the world and Lee and his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) have gone to extremes to keep their three children, oldest daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), middle son Marcus (Noah Jupe), youngest son Beau (Cade Woodward), safe from these unique monsters.
The monsters in question are a strange breed, they’re blind and they hunt by sound. Any sound above a low whisper can attract the monsters which strike quickly and brutally and once they attack they are relentless in devouring their victims. The Abbott family was lucky to have daughter Millicent whose deafness inspired Lee and Evelyn to learn and teach sign language to each of their kids. Their ability to communicate in silence is what has helped keep them alive after much of society has been destroyed.
The tension of A Quiet Place is established early on with a disturbing and shocking death early in the film. The opening sequence is shocking and sets a tone of tension and suspense that will have you clinging to your chair from beginning to end. The use of sounds, seemingly mundane, everyday kinds of sounds is brilliant as are the seeds planted about dangers that could lead to sound, especially Evelyn’s pregnancy, raise the tension as you wonder how the family will handle such a potentially noisy situation.
A Quiet Place was directed by star John Krasinski and it is his third feature after the well reviewed pair of 2009’s Brief Interviews of Hideous Men and 2016’s The Hollars. I have not seen those two films but Krasinski’s highly skillful work in A Quiet Place makes me want to see his other films. This is an exceptional piece of direction that smartly uses pace and sound, and especially the lack of sound as filmic devices.
Scene after scene is built with tension surrounding the potential for members of this family to make a sound that could be the end for them all and the tension builds throughout the film to almost unbearable degrees. The birth scene especially is a nail-biter as the carefully laid plans of Lee and Evelyn to create a space where she can safely give birth go awry in unpredictable fashion. This is a very smart movie and much of that comes from the tight control that Krasinski has over what he presents the audience visually and audibly.
My only complaint about A Quiet Place is that the creatures at the heart of the tension of the film aren’t all that impressive. Various inspirations appear to have influenced the creature designs from Alien to Cloverfield and the derivative nature of the design and the at times clumsy special effects that give the monsters life threaten to ruin some otherwise great work. Thankfully, the monsters are only glimpsed as needed with the anticipation of the monsters doing the work that the special effects can’t in creating fear and dread in the audience.
A Quiet Place was one of my favorite moviegoing experiences of the year thus far. Not only was it a terrific movie it was fun to watch with a big audience, eager to jump and yelp and squirm throughout the movie. The audience for A Quiet Place was nearly as much fun as the movie itself. Will the film lose anything in the home theater experience? Maybe a little of the energy of a theater audience but if you watch for the first time with someone who didn’t see it in theaters then perhaps the experience will be similar to the experience I had.
A Quiet Place is available today on Blu-Ray, DVD and for rent on various streaming services.