Release Date: April 6, 2018
Directed by John Krasinski
Written by: Bryan Woods, Scott Beck & John Krasinski
A Quiet Place aka a study in sound and the art of building tension. John Krasinski creates an ever-evolving world of set-up and pay-off. Scenarios are created scene after scene in which I audibly heard the audience hold their breath and wait for the unavoidable end. An audience full of people sitting at the edge of their seats as this film loaded Chekhov’s gun over and over again. You would think this kind of pace to a film would become exhausting but it never does, because at its heart this is a movie about love and family. At its heart this film is about two parents trying to protect their children to the best of their abilities in a world inherently unsafe.
Here’s the set-up:
Sometime in the near future the Earth has been invaded by aliens. These aliens blind, strong, fast and hunt by sound. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt star as Lee and Evelyn Abbott. The Abbotts along with their children represent some of the last remaining humans on the planet. Making any kind of sound is a death sentence. The question becomes, not only how do you keep your children alive, but how do you attempt to give them as normal of a childhood as possible in this world.
By the time the audience joins the story the Abbott’s are on day 89 with a time jump to day 472 (a little over a year later). This is the new way of life on Earth and the Abbott’s are not only trying to survive but are determined to thrive. This is evident in the altered Monopoly board the children play after a family dinner and in Lee’s determination to create a working hearing device for his deaf daughter. You can spot their determination to make the barn their home in the ways that Evelyn (Blunt) has placed blankets across the hay bales used as seats and in the mobile made of soft materials for their expectant child.
Besides what I mentioned above, very little is known about these aliens. In fact, its never even implicitly said that these are aliens we’re dealing with and not mythical monsters. Once the Blu-Ray is available, I’m sure many will pause and study the newspaper clippings that Lee (Krasinski) has pinned up in his study. We don’t know where they have come from or why they are here. Normally, I would find these unanswered questions infuriating, but I just don’t here. It’s unimportant. The real story is the love between this family and their dynamics in this new world. As the audience we only get a glimpse of this family’s life during these 2 – 3 days living in this new world and attempting to create their new normal. The least important thing to this story are the aliens.
With a film like this, where there is so little actual spoken dialogue it falls to the actors to convey everything through their eyes and body language. I’ll spend little time talking about Krasinski and Blunt’s performances because of course they killed it. What this film hinged on was casting children who would be able to handle the challenge of acting with just their faces and these kids were incredible. Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe as Marcus and Regan Abbott were able to convey such intricate emotions and scenarios in ways that adult actors struggle with. It was their performances which sold this story and made it believable.
Now, I would never ever suggest waiting to watch a movie at home as opposed to watching in a theater. Movies are meant for the big screen and should be viewed on such. Yet…
the use of sound is such an important part of this movie that I found normal theater noises super distracting. During the quietest moments of the film I could not only hear the music of the movie in the theater next door, the couple whispering behind me and the woman snacking on popcorn three rows ahead of me. Y’all know I love watching films in a packed theater and I love being around others as they experience the film for the first time. The movie theater is a shared experience, especially with an energetic crowd who give so much to the atmosphere. However, this time I crave a viewing of this film in the comforts of my own home where I can have slightly more control over the extra noise. The sound and the silence are used in such amazing masterful ways in this film that I want to experience that in the ways it was meant to be experienced. I want to live in the silence of the film.
My favorite horror films are those that still hold up if you removed the horror elements. If you can do that and still have a film, then I believe that is the mark of a great horror film. I believe this film could survive on the family relationships and dynamics alone. Which is why this will probably become one of my favorites.
Do yourself a favor and watch this film because it will pull at your heartstrings.