A Quiet Place - 2018
Director(s): John Krasinski
Writer(s): John Krasinski, Bryan Woods and Scot Beck
Cinematography by: Charlotte Bruus Christensen
Editor(s): Christopher Tellefsen
Cast: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe and Cade Woodward
Synopsis: A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound (IMDB).
Technically this movie isn’t something we haven’t seen before. A world has fallen apart and only a handful of survivors remain, adjusting to the new circumstances, trying to stay alive. Every zombie, alien invasion and monster invasions movie has variations of this set up. A Quiet Place, when boiled down, is just that - survivors trying to stay alive long enough to either be rescued or kill the monsters that have destroyed their normal lives. Where this movie truly stands out is with the use of sound, or lack thereof. Sound almost becomes a secondary character since the creatures are blind and only hunt by sound. Each miniscule sound our protagonists make is just another drop in the bucket of tension the audience is carrying from beginning to end.
The sound department for this movie stole the show in my eyes. I will single out the supervising sound editor, Erik Aadahl , for his work, but everyone from the boom operator to the guy who put the tape on the cables on the floor so nobody would fall deserves recognition. The sound is impeccable; like I say above, its an integral part of the world we are inhabiting. We hear everything amplified from the breathing of the characters, to their steps on the floorboards giving under their weight. I can’t remember a movie that produced as much tension from just an object falling to the ground like this one does. Horror movies have become too dependent on loud noises to produce scares. While there are a few jump scares woven in the runtime, for the most part the scares are earned with minimal sounds. The audience understands the rules of the world and buy into them from the beginning. If you make noise, the monsters will come.
Quick note: Just like the sound department deserves praise, the special effects crew need recognition for their creature design. Jacob Buck was the creature supervisor and he produced a scary, unique creature that made you want to look away in terror.
John Krasinski as a director hasn’t had major success. His directorial debut, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, came and went without a whimper. His follow-up, The Hollars, gained some traction with the critics but never reached mainstream success. Both of his entries had been in the comedy-drama genre, so it was a surprise to see him jump onto the horror genre but I’m glad he did. Krasinski and cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen shot this movie beautifully. There are numerus sequences where the camera placement is one of the aspects that generates the most tension. They played hide and seek with the audience, showing us just enough to make us uneasy as to what’s coming next. I loved the set design as well and the use of the lights hanging outside the house was a nice touch, especially when the red lights are turned on. I was never bored from the visuals despite it being mostly limited to their farm.
The acting is superb all around. The kids had a lot to carry on their shoulders, especially Millicent Simmonds, and I thought they did a fine job. It’s hard sometimes to have kid actors be a central source of emotional weight for your movie, but Krasinski did a great job directing them throughout. Krasinski himself was great as the strong silent father figure trying to keep his family alive while teaching them how to be self-dependent. He has a couple of scenes with Emily Blunt that I was genuinely surprised by the raw emotions he displayed. Emily Blunt is an incredible actor and this movie is just another notch in her belt. There are scenes in this movie that are 100% carried by her facial expressions and her pure terror in the face of the situation. If you have seen the trailer you have seen her laying in the bathtub trying to fight back her screams as she is giving birth while the monster is inside the house. That is by far the best sequence of the movie and when it ended I noticed a relief going through my feet. That’s because I didn’t notice that I had my toes clenched for the duration of the sequence. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I was this tense in a movie.
Now, this movie isn’t perfect. Some won’t like the fact we don’t really get much background information on the family. I didn’t care that much all I needed to know was that they are a family and they want to survive the monster attack. Some won’t like the fact we don’t get much background information on the monsters. I didn’t care that much all I needed to know was that they are here they kill you if they hear you and you need to survive. There are horror movie tropes that a sprinkled throughout, like the newspapers articles of the attacks and the rebel kid who won’t listen to her parents. But, point me to a movie that has zero tropes and I will give you a cookie. I make a mean chocolate-chip cookie.
A Quiet Place is a great entry in to the horror genre. Recently, horror has seen a rise of intelligent movies that try to stand-out amongst its peers by taking a familiar premise and slapping a good twist on it. The narration through sound is an aspect that I loved and it helps the audience to be fully engaged in the movie. The proof is when you noticed that you can’t even hear the people eating their popcorn in the movie theater. Everyone was so engaged (maybe I was lucky) that the silence in the theater was beyond impressive and the credit fully goes to the movie. John Krasinski co-wrote and directed a great horror movie that I’m looking forward to watching again and again. John Krasinski is why I love movies.
A Quiet Place is currently playing in theaters. It’s quietly making a killing at the box office. Go watch it.
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