Critic and Editor in Chief of Spinning the Reel
I walked out of the theater and drove home in silence. Not because 'A Quiet Place' ingrained into me an irrational fear of sound hunting monsters, much the same way that 'Jaws' kept kids out of swimming pools the summer of 1975. Rather, I think the reason I embraced the quiet is that in just an hour and a half at the theater I had become totally immersed in the world and story that John Krasinski had created. It just felt true.
As I get into this, it's worth while to note that, with a few exceptions, I'm not big on horror films. I find that many scary movies lack depth beyond a couple hours of monsters jumping out of nowhere. There is value to that but it isn’t an experience I seek out. That's where Get Out was so successful, it told a poignant, yet simple story while being scary as hell. A Quiet Place follows that formula as it explores what happens to a family when lines of communication breakdown.
Krasinski's film follows the Abbotts, one of the few families still surviving a year and a half after the arrival of mysterious monsters that have wiped out most life on Earth. We quickly learn these creatures are blind and hunt by sound. In order to stay hidden and safe, the Abbotts have had to live in complete silence. That safety is put at risk as time marches toward Evelyn Abbot's (Emily Blunt) due date and thus the arrival of two notably not quiet things, birth and a baby.
Much of the drama and suspense in A Quiet Place is derived from the preparation for and immediate aftermath of the arrival of the newest Abbott. Well, that and the silence. In a way, sound becomes a character, scarce but powerful. The quiet pulls you in and each sound that breaks through sends a jolt of suspense down your spine. On the surface level, this makes fo ra well done creature feature, but A Quiet Place is so much more.
Now, a few lines back I compared John Krasinski's directorial debut to the Oscar winning Get Out, I don't do that lightly. Although it lacks the biting social commentary of Get Out, A Quiet Plac' similarly operates on a deeper level. At its core, this film is a story of what happens when a family is faced with tremendous stress and heartbreaking loss. It is the tale of how we deal with trauma as communication breaks down. Each character wears this burden on his or her sleeve; Evelyn suffering silently in grief and guilt, Lee (Krasinski) shouldering his own guilt trying to tinker and fix the his family on his own, and finally Regan, Lee and Evelyn's deaf daughter (portrayed brilliantly by Millicent Simmonds,) is just a child but shouldering her own guilt and perceived blame of her family.
As brilliant as it is, A Quiet Place does fall victim to a few common horror issues. A bit too often characters make baffling decisions in the name of advancing the plot. Those moments are frustrating and do detract from the overall enjoyment, each sequence in question is ultimately the building block of a greater emotional connection to a wonderful film. Those small sins can be forgiven in the name of one of the best films so far this year
I'll close by saying that if you're on the fence, absolutely go see this movie. Even if you aren’t all that into horror, A Quiet Place has something more to offer. See it in theaters for the full experience and come to appreciate the silence.