I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Over the past few years the horror genre has turned out some massive gems. Amazing horror offerings like “The Witch”, “Don’t Breathe” and “Get Out” have revolutionized horror by offering new twists, turns and mature themes for audiences to embrace. However, probably the most impressive and memorable of them all has arrived in 2018, a gem of a film called “A Quiet Place”. Co-written, directed by and starring John Krasinski “A Quiet Place” is unnerving, unique and frighteningly real making it destined to be one of the year’s most memorable films. Without further ado this is my review of “A Quiet Place”.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT
“A Quiet Place” focuses on a post-apocalyptic America where creatures who hunt purely through the detection of sound have ravaged society. A family composed of Lee Abbott (John Krasinski), Evelyn (Emily Blunt), their deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds who is deaf in real life) and their meek son Marcus (Noah Jupe) experience tragedy less than a hundred days into the apocalypse. The family hunkers down for over a year and after over 400 days we see them living a literally quiet life, communicating through sign language and having set up a system to detect and hide from the creatures and warn each other of their presence. Evelyn is shown to be pregnant and close to her birth date. When Lee and Marcus go on a bonding expedition while Regan grieves over her part in the tragedy Evelyn is left alone leading to a series of events where the monsters locate the Abbott family sanctuary and begin to raise hell. The result is a cat and mouse game where even the smallest sound can mean death.
This cast is awesome. I mean really it is. Every actor truly committed to the theme of the film, learning American sign language in order to communicate with each other without the need for sound, although whispers are occasionally used and words are spoken at certain times. John Krasinski does a fantastic job leading this cast. His character Lee is an experienced, concerned, and frustrated man who shows all the makings of a typical movie father, except it truly seems that his flaws are based more on his inability to communicate and his focus on survival than anything else. Emily Blunt plays the opposite role, able to express love and affection better through her sign language but unable to focus on the terror of the moment and seems to be content just being alive. Combine the two and not only do you have a great on-screen couple with incredible chemistry, you have two characters that balance each other out and work off of each other incredibly. They define the dangers of limited communication and make a pair of great parents and guardians willing to do anything to protect their family. We want them to survive and succeed, but we also understand the sacrifices they may have to make to see that through and we feel for them every step of the way. It’s not each to get the audience emotionally invested in a couple in a horror film, but Krasinski and Blunt succeed where many have failed.
The child actors are also impeccable. Millicent Simmonds is the true breakout star of this film as a deaf actress in real life who works well off of the adults and acts as the brave but frustrated child in the picture. She’s haunted by the part she played in the family tragedy of the past and as such feels guilt but can’t quite express it because of her dependence of sign language, but her lack of hearing plays an important role in the film and makes the peril she experiences more believable and natural. Being a real-life deaf girl Simmonds embraces this role taking the time to show us, the audience, the struggles that come with being deaf and the frustration one would feel from being unable to verbally define their feelings and their longing for a deeper connection with someone. The other child actor in the film is Noah Jupe who plays Marcus Abbott, a meek young boy who probably experiences the most character growth of anyone in the film. Jupe plays the shy, cautious and scared youngster nicely and we watch him grow, really over the course of a day, from a scared little kid to a young man who realizes the significance of his father’s lessons. Every actor owns every bit of their roles in this film and with such a small cast the focus was squarely on them from the first frame to the last. They all own it and give us a family layered with struggles and emotional strife that makes them feel real, honest and flawed in a world where they can’t afford any mistakes.
Pretty much everything. I mean really this film is just amazing viewing from start to finish. “A Quiet Place” is an immaculately written and conceived horror creature feature with a creative and truly threatening monster that’s cunning and strong and posses a true threat for the family and society. The creature design is on point and every time the monster is on screen you truly feel the dread of the characters and, in some cases, experience your own natural fear because it’s established early on that these are unstoppable and formidable monsters with no known weakness and an attraction to a basic function of humanity. The movie establishes all of this with minimal dialogue and considering how few actual spoken lines are in this film the fact that the characters say so much with so little and the setting is established with minimal true exposition is a testament to the passion put into making this the incredible product it is. Even the jump scares feel natural and are truly effective as the film uses its lack of sound and verbal communication to it’s advantage and you truly feel like you’re experiencing the fright of the family on screen right along with them. It’s a fascinating showcase of truly effective fear, focused writing and detail-oriented storytelling on the big screen.
“A Quiet Place” never strays from the Abbott family allowing us to experience the terror in a closed setting without making the world around them feel small. There was incredible attention to how sound would travel and what would make such sounds with characters using waterfalls and rivers as well as fireworks to distract the monsters by making louder noises than their voices. John Krasinski said he even sought out a deaf actress, in this case Millicent Simmonds, specifically to draw from her life and experiences and knowledge to make the film authentic and it worked. “A Quiet Place” never takes the easy way out and uses the limitations of deafness and silence perfectly to add to the intensity and danger of every scene.
And that’s the added beauty of this film. It’s inventive, original, and it’s actually very scary making for an amazing experience that will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Some moments are outright brutal, while others take their time slowly building the tension that, at least in the filed-to-capacity theater I was in, you could cut with a knife. It’s unpredictable and engrossing while simultaneously being claustrophobic and atmospheric despite taking place mostly on a single patch of farmland and in only a handful of building. “A Quiet Place” is a rare treat that sticks to its identity, owns its theme, and strives to give viewers an experience like nothing they’ve ever seen before and utilizes a unique elemental danger that’s enough to make you wonder how you could ever survive in a world so dangerous.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
I gave this film credit for it’s lack of exposition, but there lies it’s one true flaw. There’s very little I hated about this film. So little in fact that just for the sake of putting something here I had to get down to the nit-pickiest detail I could find to have ANYTHING to complain about. The one thing that I did find myself harping on after my viewing was the tiniest of details, a simple storytelling tool that seemed oddly abundant despite the fact that everything we know about the monsters tells us it’s out of place. That would be the newspapers and other tidbits that are used to tell the story without using actual exposition. Not even kidding, the worst thing about this film is how those papers create a plot hole. How could people print so many different papers, which make noise when printed by the way, and with so many different publications without finding themselves devoured by the monsters…and someone survived long enough to distribute these papers which all warn of the sound-based danger of the monsters? I mean really this is the smallest detail that you can easily overlook just to enjoy the fun of this film and it truly is something worth setting aside, but you have to admit it’s quite a plot hole and really is the only detracting detail I could come up with for this film. Otherwise “A Quiet Place” is an incredibly detail-oriented and unique story and a film like few other horror movies you’ve ever seen in your life and let’s face it this one overlooked hole could be resolved through many explanations, but no film is truly perfect and “A Quiet Place’s” fault lies in it’s attempt to get maybe too creative with its setup of the history leading to the story we are watching unfold.
What else can I say? “A Quiet Place” is impressive and the hype around it truly is justified with great acting, detail-oriented filmmaking, incredible pacing and amazing and effective scares as well as a monster that is as unique as it is memorable. This is the kind of story we need to see more of in Hollywood. It’s inventive, it’s new, and it just feels fresh and touches on an element of humanity that I don’t believe any other film has dared tackle before to this extent with sound being a source of danger to humanity’s survival. It works so well on every level that even if you want to dig below the surface to find those few plot holes and flaws that might only mildly ruin the experience for you this is still one of the best horror movies we’ve seen in probably the last ten or twenty years. It’s also one of the most unique all-around film experiences we’ve had come our way as well. I have to say I’d love to watch it again. It’s an experience you have to see to believe and after a slow start for horror 2018 “A Quiet Place” puts the genre right back on track and reminds us that the genre can still be the source of some of cinema’s best and most creative concepts when the right minds come together to make something truly inspired.