John Krasinski (The Office, 13 Hours) makes his silver screen directorial debut in “A Quiet Place”, a film in which he also acts and writes. The story is fairly simple, yet intriguing: aliens have landed on Earth, but they are blind- they act purely on sound. This, as a plot device, drives the entire film, from the opening scenes in the post-apocalyptic convenience store to the finale of the movie, which, because you probably haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil. The core idea is that none of the characters (there are only four) can make a sound without being brutally killed by the aliens. It makes for interesting sound design, and a refreshing take on the horror genre. I would venture to say that the majority of the film is silent, with few moments of thriller-esque music to accompany the various jump-scares Krasinski stylishly places into the movie. During the film, I was struck by how Krasinski uses sound to make the audience relate the characters, to provide background on the aliens, and move the story along.
In the film, one of the characters is deaf. With each camera focus on the deaf character, played by Millicent Simmonds, the movie’s audio becomes muted, as if to simulate what her character is hearing at the time. This leads to a few terrifying scenes in which the aliens are right behind her- but of course, she has no idea, because she can’t hear them. Only we as an audience can see the creature towering behind her.
The choice to use barely any noises in the film takes one of the five senses away from the audience. Krasinski knows this, and he uses it to great effect in order to build up suspense. He would show a person walking towards the main character, but not show their face- and without a voice telling us who the character is, it’s easy to assume that the unidentified character has some bad intentions. After all, “A Quiet Place” really is a horror movie. And in horror movies, unidentified characters tend to have bad intentions. It’s clear that Krasinski has spent a long time tuning the sounds of his film in order to use sound in its full capacity.
In a fashion similar to the “Cloverfield” series, Krasinski refrains from delving into the history of the aliens featured in his film. However, he is still able to show off how the creatures invoke terror from the very beginning of the movie, even before the title credits roll. He also is able to show how the creatures pick up sound with multiple close-ups of the creatures’ heads, revealed to be giant eardrums (yes, it sounds silly, but it’s actually pretty neat).
I couldn’t possibly finish a review of this film without speaking to the fantastic acting demonstrated by the entire cast. John Krasinski acts as the father of the family, with Emily Blunt (his real-life wife) acting opposite him as the mother of the family. They both demonstrate the acting ability that they are known for, and in an almost purely silent movie, acting ability is what either makes or breaks the film. The two young actors, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe are fantastic as well, and they are able to convey their fear and despair about living in such a silent world.
The story is a little bit strange, and at sometimes I found myself extremely confused about why they would do certain things, like leave the batteries to a really loud toy spaceship in reach of their youngest child. I don’t want to spoil anything, but if you do end up seeing “A Quiet Place”, it’s a safe bet that you’ll see the strange plotlines also.
John Krasinski makes his big screen directorial debut in an excellent fashion, with a film that redesigns the horror genre, and really makes you appreciate the fact that there aren’t any sound-hunting aliens roaming our world. His use of sound is what makes this film stand out from all the other horror movies, and it’s a risk, but one that pays off. The sound design is supported by some fantastic acting, but the story has a few parts that don’t quite make sense. “A Quiet Place” is an enjoyable experience for horror movie lovers, and can be a gateway into the world of horror/thriller films for those who aren’t as accustomed to jump-scares and creepy looking monsters.
Sound design is stunning and is put to great use
Acting is fantastic across the board
John Krasinski’s training in “The Office” acting with his face really pays off in this movie
Some of the story choices aren’t really clear, and some don’t really make common sense