From the moment A Quiet Place begins, it has you.
A family carefully maneuvers through an abandoned pharmacy looking for medication without making a sound. They’re cautious, but you can tell they’ve done this before. This is the world they live in now. The family includes the father, Lee (John Krasinski), the mother, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), and their three children Regan, Marcus and Beau.
After leaving, they follow the bread crumbs, or in this case sand, back to their home. They think it’s another successful trip. But something happens. Something I won’t spoil, but this event sets in motion not only the stakes of the film, but the drama surrounding this family.
The family lives in silence because there are creatures that hunt by sound. You so much as step on a leaf or whisper and the creatures will find you. As a result, the family begins communicating through sign language not only because it’s necessary, but because their oldest, Regan, is def. Adapt or die.
To call A Quiet Place one of the most ingenious thrillers ever conceived would be an understatement. What Jaws did for water, this film does for silence. Except in Jaws, Chief Brody and his family could escape by simply walking on land.
This family has no escape. You are on pins and needles for every second. It’s a unique theater experience. People are usually quiet during a movie, but this was different. People actually waited for music to play before clearing their throats or eating popcorn. The movie is that captivating and compelling.
But it’s not a simple monster movie. At the heart of A Quiet Place is a family struggling with things every family deals with including grief, resentment and pain. These themes raise the film to another level and despite the short running time, director Krasinski develops each character so that when trouble arises, you’re with them and care about what happens to them.
You would think that if an actor didn’t have to speak for most of a film, it would be an easy part because they wouldn’t have to learn their lines. But it’s probably more difficult because they must use different muscles in delivering the performance.
So, on top of being a thrilling and terrifying film, A Quiet Place is also well acted. Krasinski gives one of his best performances as a father with the weight of the world on his shoulders. He has a wife and three children to protect and even when the children make mistakes, he must show patience because if he doesn’t they could die.
Blunt is incredible as always and she’s also pregnant in the film. Let’s just say the birthing scene is a highlight and one that will be remembered.
Regan is played by Millicent Simmonds who is def in real life. She steals the movie as a girl who makes a mistake early on and spends the rest of the film tormented by that mistake. You can see the pain in her face and despite her disability, the filmmakers find a way to use that as a weapon that ultimately redeems the character.
As mentioned earlier, this is a short film. But because silence is essentially a weapon, every second is important and Krasinski is efficient and surgical in the storytelling. There’s a couple of jump scares here and there, but the first two acts are about establishing this family and world.
And Krasinski can avoid the usual expository dialogue to his advantage. There is no explanation as to why, how or when these creatures arrive and other than a literal wall of exposition revealing a couple of things, we’re in the dark. Sometimes ambiguity just works better.
Logic doesn’t always make sense however. If the creatures sense everything, why don’t they hear a paper blowing in the wind? And how is it that a room can suddenly be sound proof with nothing but a mattress?
When we finally get to the third act, all that buildup pays off in an extremely satisfying way with one thrilling sequence after another. Let’s just say a nail, water and corn all play key roles down the stretch.
To simply call A Quiet Place a genre film would be doing it a disservice. It’s a smart and emotional film about a family masquerading as a creature feature. But there’s still room for plenty of scares.