9 out of 10
Emily Blunt as Evelyn Abbott
Directed by John Krasinski
A Quiet Place Review:
A Quiet Place is one of the best thrillers in years. It will have audiences all over shivering in terror and anticipation, and I imagine many dates will have their arms mangled because their significant others will be clawing them in fear. It’s efficient, never overstays its welcome, and offers enough nuance and emotion throughout its 90-minute running time that gives weight and power to the film that many other horror thrillers with similar stories cannot sustain. I’m going to make a bold statement here – the last time a film had me gripping the sides of my chair like this was Jurassic Park. Both Steven Spielberg and John Krasinski have a real talent for sustaining cinematic tension, and I hope that this is only the first exploration into genre that Krasinski does in his directorial career. He’s exceedingly good at it.
Pay attention to what Krasinski does with sound. Every creak of a floorboard, every step of a character, is full of potential horrors; so much so that A Quiet Place has a way of putting the audience right alongside the Abbott family. It’s a spell that Krasinski puts us under, where even a noise in the theater can be cause for dismay. Here’s something a little inside baseball – studios often screen this ahead of opening for free for general audiences, and at times, those audiences who get to see a free movie can be rowdy to the point of distraction. Not at this screening. There were moments that you could only hear the breathing around you as something terrifying happened onscreen. The intensity is contagious, and for a film with very little dialogue, Krasinski is very adept at telling this story through sound and imagery, aided by a remarkable score by Marco Beltrami, who does career best work here. I fully expect some technical Oscar nominations, at the very least in sound design and effects.
But A Quiet Place also gives us characters to root for, and the film is graced with some fantastic acting work by everyone involved, including the kids, who give extraordinary performances. This is the kind of movie where characters behave as most people would, and we can relate easily to them even though they are put through horrific experiences. The terror is palpable, and Krasinski knows how to orchestrate fear, tension, and excitement like a master conductor, because we want this family to make it, and we care for them very much.
We begin at day 86 of some horrible invasion of sorts. Creatures have come and have killed most of the population. They are blind, chitinous aliens (we assume) that are very fast and very strong, and with an almost supernatural sense of hearing. Any kind of noise will cause them to come running, and whoever makes that noise is almost certainly doomed. The Abbott family have survived for as long as they have due to their experiences with daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), who is deaf and wears a cochlear implant. Evelyn (Emily Blunt) is almost at the end of a pregnancy and Lee (John Krasinski) is desperate to prepare the family for the coming baby, as well as trying to keep everyone safe. Marcus (Noah Jupe) is terrified of everything, and can barely function. When Evelyn’s labor begins, Lee must race against time to figure out how to stop these creatures and to save his family.
Both John Krasinski’s and Emily Blunt’s (married in real life) characters bring as much stability to the family as they can, in a world full of monsters. They are doing their best to raise children that can navigate this world but also have self-sufficiency. But all of the Abbotts are wracked with guilt – they are survivors in a hostile world and they have taken losses beyond compare. Regan, especially, feels the burden upon her, and struggles to cope with not only her hearing loss, but her responsibilities to the family. Krasinski, along with screenwriters Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, give us a deeper examination of this family, but the film never lets up on its relentless thrills either. A Quiet Place is masterfully edited by Christopher Tellefsen, and I am curious as to how much was left on the cutting room floor, because what is left is remarkably restrained and effective. The storytelling here is first rate, and each setpiece builds with energy and depth. We have nice character moments, but Krasinski is far more interested in showing and not telling, and the result is a film that never really stops throughout its running time. This is one intense ride.
I love the creature design – and I appreciate that Krasinski knows when to go all in for a full reveal and when to be spare. Like Spielberg in Jaws, Krasinski knows that our imaginations can fill the gaps much more effectively through restraint. A Quiet Place is produced by Michael Bay, but this has none of Bay’s bombast or cacophony. This is an expertly-crafted thriller, and while we’ve seen this angle before in other invasion films, Krasinski trusts and respects the audience enough to let us do the heavy lifting. This is meant to be experienced in a darkened theater, with loud speakers and a captive audience. Don’t let A Quiet Place pass you by. We don’t get many thrill rides of this caliber, and we don’t often get to see a level of talent erupt in such ferocity as we do here. This is a monster movie for the ages.