April 3, 2018 A Quiet Place (Movie Review)
One of the more anticipated Thrillers so far this year is John Krasinski’s (The Office series, Big Miracle 2012) directed A Quiet Place. Opening in theaters on Friday, April 6, 2018 thanks to Paramount Pictures, A Quiet Place is a high tension, post apocalyptic spine-chiller focusing on a family’s struggle to survive in a nearly empty world without making any loud noises at any time. It may be somewhat of a one trick pony in the scares department, but A Quiet Place executes this one trick to maximum efficiency, and features strong performances from everyone involved despite almost no dialogue.
The film’s opening scene establishes the carefulness the family must take with movement, as well as the ruthless brutality of the consequences of carelessness. Scavenging for supplies at a derelict general store, the family, consisting of dad, mom, and three children, has to take the utmost precaution when moving. No shoes, sudden movements, or even talking out loud. The youngest child finds a toy rocket that he pretends will take the family away from their nightmare world, and his sister hands him batteries for the toy to make it light up and make sound. Unfortunately, the boy, who is too young to quite understand the seriousness of the situation, turns the toy on and dooms himself to the creatures that have effectively killed off most of humanity.
The family must do everything in near silence but manage an impressive level of living despite that – they are not starving, they have a strong sense of unity, and they even play games together. But the danger they are in is ever present. One false move, something as benign as dropping a glass of water, can have deadly consequences. They even have floors of all the buildings in the farmstead they live on painted so they know where to step to avoid squeaky boards. Many months after the youngest is slain, the parents are expecting a child again, and getting through the birth and subsequent raising of the baby is the main conflict the story heads toward.
The characters are well written and stand out as individuals. Lee Abbott, played by Krasinski, is a model parent – protective, nurturing, and always focused on keeping the threat away. He has built an alarm system of lights, as well as a soundproof basement where he collects all information on the creatures and works tirelessly on a HAM radio to connect with any outside survivors. The mother Evelyn, played by Krasinski’s real life wife Emily Blunt (Sicario 2015, Looper 2012), is likewise an excellent parent, but her role in day to day tasks is diminished as her pregnancy goes on. Both children are hard working and clever, and neither are a burden – a refreshing change from many Thriller scripts with young kids.
The best performance, however, is that of their eldest child, daughter Reagan. Played by deaf Actress Millicent Simmonds (Wonderstruck 2017), Reagan is the lens through which the audience experiences true auditory isolation. Whenever she takes her hearing aid out, all ambient noise ceases and we are left with a cold silence that really drives home the lifestyle that she has always lived. This is why Reagan is so brave, even fearless, in this new world – because it is not new to her at all. She is a very strong character and her story arc of frustration and growing pains never comes off as petulant. Her choices matter more than any other character in this story.
Now onto the creatures, which are simultaneously the linchpin of the tension and the film’s biggest weakness. The creatures are blind but possess an extremely acute sense of hearing, and according to the newspaper clippings during their reign of terror, are near indestructible. They are fearsome and effective, but the problem comes later on when it is discovered how they can be dealt with. Without giving too much away, it is difficult to reconcile how these things managed to take out most of the species when their weakness is revealed. It simply doesn’t make sense that no one anywhere, military or civilian, couldn’t have done this and nipped this creature problem before it got too crazy.
Creature mediocrity aside, A Quiet Place is rife with high tension moments that when looked at from afar, are the same situation under slightly different circumstances, but never feel derivative. The strength of the characters and the family drama surrounding these scenes gives the story a lot of breathing room that other Thriller writers would do well to examine. In lesser hands, this movie could have been a series of uninspired jump scares, but it is quite engaging despite the ending reveal falling a bit flat.
Overall, A Quiet Place delivers exactly what you would expect from the trailers everyone has seen. It is an effective Thriller that boasts excellent performances and does not completely rely on a gimmick to be what it is. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives A Quiet Place 4 out of 5 stars.