UK Release Date: 5th April 2018
Runtime: 90 minutes
Director: John Krasinski
Writer: Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski
Starring: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward
Synopsis: A family struggling to survive in a dystopian future must remain completely silent at all times in order to avoid attack by creatures that have wiped out most of humanity.
Our new horror auteurs are comedians, it seems. A year after Jordan Peele wowed his way to an Oscar with the socially prickly Get Out, it’s the turn of John Krasinski – or “him off The Office” to most people – with A Quiet Place. As a writer-director, Krasinski has two poorly received comedy movies in his back catalogue, so the prospect of a nerve-shredding horror film is something that could not be more outside of his filmmaking wheelhouse. In spite of that, Krasinski has followed Peele in producing a movie that is sharp, terrifying and willing to celebrate diversity.
The story wastes no time in introducing its killer premise. Parents Lee (Krasinski) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) guide their children around an abandoned supermarket for supplies, communicating only via sign language, and ensuring they don’t make a sound. The world has been left ravaged by the arrival of strange, violent creatures who are blind and so can only find human prey if they make a noise. Lee and Evelyn are making preparations for the arrival of a new child, which is an enormous risk in a world where any sound could prove to be a fatal mistake.
First and foremost, A Quiet Place is a work of white-knuckle tension to an absurd degree. The premise is delineated clearly in the first few minutes and, from that point onwards, Krasinski strips everything back in order to amplify the sense of paranoia, nervousness and terror. Every noise, no matter how insignificant, feels deafening and cacophonous in this environment, which creates an innovative and unusual soundscape. There’s a minimal score and the sound that is there is used to great effect, most notably in a tender emotional scene between real-life spouses Blunt and Krasinski where they share a brief moment of slow dancing at music playing through headphones – an escape from the world of silence.
Even within this minimal environment, Krasinski manages to create plenty of moments of emotion like this with his well-drawn characters. There’s a great scene in which Krasinski takes his son (Noah Jupe, last seen in Wonder) to a riverside and waterfall, where they are able to speak to each other freely due to the noise of the water. There’s a similar emotional intrigue to hearing-impaired sibling Regan – played by deaf actress Millicent Simmonds, who taught the cast ASL – and her struggles with a pivotal, tragic event for which she blames herself and has become isolated as a result.
But it’s the tension and the horror that will bring people to A Quiet Place, and that is delivered in spades. An upturned nail on a staircase is a truly terrifying Chekhov’s Gun device and a simple game of Monopoly is the most troubling movie board game since Yahtzee appeared in The Visit. The creatures themselves are rendered brilliantly, with every penny of the budget seemingly going into putting their CGI together. The story builds to a neat and tidy resolution that, in a lesser film, might have been a little trite, but here feels like the correct and logical culmination for a story about humans using all of their wits and nerve to survive.
For someone operating in the horror world for the first time, Krasinski has constructed a near-perfect example of the genre in A Quiet Place. It’s a film that deserves to be seen and heard in the cinema with the most impressive sound system imaginable, as it’s a triumph of immersive cinema. More bizarrely, it’s also a production put together by Platinum Dunes and that means, beyond everything else, it’s almost certainly the best movie ever to be made with Michael Bay‘s name in the credits.
Pop or Poop?
As a first foray into the world of horror for an up and coming genre filmmaker, things don’t get much better than A Quiet Place. It’s an exceptional exercise in tension, which makes as much a virtue of noise as it does of silence, recognising that any work of terror needs to understand the value of both. Strong performances from its cast and a surprising emotional undercurrent add up to what is certainly the best horror movie of 2018 to date.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.