Dear Mr. Krasinski, kudos to you man. A Quiet Place is deserving of all the praise it is getting lately. I am here to heap some more on it.
A Quiet Place sets it up pretty early on that no one is safe. This adds a layer of underlying tension on top of the ongoing suspense. It sets up the rules of the land from the get go, and does a good job of sticking to them – as the tagline goes “If they hear you, they hunt you.” A simple premise and a goldmine for creating some of the most intense scenes I have seen in some time.
The movie opens on the Abbott family of five scavenging a small “mom & pop” type store for supplies. John Krasinski, in addition to writing and directing the movie, stars as the dad Lee. Emily Blunt plays wife Evelyn and mother to Regan, Marcus and Beau (played by Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, and Cade Woodward respectively). What on the surface is a simple scene of scavenging, is layered and shot in a way that introduces you to the characters and their situation better than any long winded opening narration could do.
The eldest son Marcus, about 13 years old or so, is in need of medication. The middle child, Regan, is deaf, around 11 or 12 years old, and has a close relationship with her younger brother Beau, who is probably 5 or 6. They have a routine, rules, and sense of purpose about them, so it is obvious that they have had to live this way for awhile now. Alert, Careful, and mindful of their actions as the sounds they make could mean their demise at the claws of the mysterious creatures on the prowl.
As A Quiet Place plays out, John Krasinski takes the time to find some great shots to keep you engaged visually when there is not a lot going on audibly. That is not to say there is a lack of sound design. Quite the contrary, actually. Sound plays a huge factor, as you would expect in a movie called “A Quiet Place”. In fact, the sound design is often as clever as the visuals in keeping such a quiet movie engaging. For instance, by having a deaf daughter, her situations are always heightened. Not only for her not being able to hear the creatures, but her inability to really know how much noise she is creating. When in her mindset, the audio will drop and the effect is akin to watching a movie with a protagonist trapped underwater. You instinctively hold your breath.
By now it is obvious I am being as vague as possible. The most enjoyment, like many movies, is in going in knowing as little as possible. All you really need to know is that it is well acted, beautifully shot and mixed, and that there is plenty of edge-of-your-seat moments followed by a few jump-out-of-your-seat ones. This is the story of a man and his family just trying to survive in extreme circumstances. As such, do not expect much in regards answers for the who, what, where, how of what is hunting them. Like other good horror, it’s the unknown that makes things more frightening.
Krasinski nailed it. I cannot wait to see what other surprises he has in store for us down the road. Maybe he can team up with Jordan Peele for a crossover – Get Out of the Woods…?