It’s about time a good horror movie was released in 2018.
A Quiet Place is John Krasinski’s horror directorial debut and stars Emily Blunt and Krasinski himself in a tense thriller about a family’s survival in some sort of a post-apocalyptic future. John Krasinski also contributed to the script, which is fascinating to see a director get so involved in a project, especially when he hasn’t done this horror genre before.
Apparently the writers were interested to make A Quiet Place part of the Cloverfield universe, which I originally thought was an amazing proposition (especially in comparison to the sub-par Cloverfield Paradox).
But in actuality, I felt that the movie wouldn’t have benefited as much when part of a bigger franchise. The film is effective and just as strong on its own, it didn’t need the ‘Cloverfield’ branding on the title. I will also note that A Quiet Place was very reminiscent of some of M. Night Shymalan’s old films, in particular Signs.
In a way, it’s nice to see this style of self-contained thrillers coming back to the big screen.
Now, easily the strongest part of the film – which I felt carried the entire narrative – was the family dynamic. While A Quiet Place classifies itself as a horror film, the genre is used to accentuate the themes of family and brings it to the foreground.
From the very beginning, the stakes are set and we instantly sympathise with the family, making us care for them throughout the entire movie (for the most part). I don’t feel like the film would have the same weight if it was just a group of teenagers or friends, and so the family dynamic gives the movie space to explore different character arcs and development.
Part of the reason this worked so well was the acting. As always, Blunt and Krasinski give an amazing and riveting performance. However the child actors in this film are not to be forgotten. Typically when it comes to films of this nature, child actors can sometimes be make or break, especially when they cannot drive the intense fear into their acting. However, Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds were able to bring their own talent to the table. Simmons is also a deaf actress which is interesting to both her character and the concept of the film.
The concept must also be praised, because it is so unique in both style and execution. I have never seen a movie done in mostly complete silence (at least not in a while), where the actors require using sign language and their facial expressions to display emotion, instead of dialogue.
It’s interesting to see how Krasinski fleshed out this world and show how this family has been able to survive so far by living in silence. There are a few ‘nitpicky’ plot-holes and questions that came to mind when watching the movie, but if you buy into the concept, it’s a concept generally well-executed.
The runtime for A Quiet Place also definitely helps with the narrative.
With such a short runtime of just 90 minutes, it was compelling and satisfying to see the story be told in a short, concise, but contained film. Similar to a lot of classic Shymalan films, A Quiet Place felt very contained, with a majority (or at least, the second half) of the film happening over the course of one event. It isn’t a convoluted story of war or battling, but rather a poignant tale of a family’s survival during one harrowing moment.
In addition to that, while we aren’t given much about the fate of the world and what has become of it, the film gives the audience just enough information for the narrative to work. We aren’t told the entire history, or the lore, just simply that this family is trying to survive. And at its core, that’s all the audience needs to know.
Speaking of execution, A Quiet Place is masterfully crafted in both cinematography and in sound. Certain framed shots and smooth movements reminded me that not all modern horror films are rubbish jump scare flicks, because there’s a certain mastery that comes with the genre.
For the most part, sound was also eloquently handled, especially in a film that mostly lacked sound. Its constant silence paves the way for tense sequences that makes the audience hold their breath, drawing them in to the idea that ‘if they make a sound, they will die’.
Now, the sound is also where I begin to have problems with the film.
As someone who harks on and on about the effectiveness of jump scares, and hates loud noises that startles the audience, A Quiet Place definitely makes use of loud noises to scare.
The thing is, it is done in a way that makes sense, especially when you contrast it to the constant silence of the film, a loud sound will definitely differ from the rest of the film. And so while I may dislike this technique, I definitely understand how it works in this context. Plus, it’s handled far better than your average throwaway horror flick.
There are a couple of stupid decisions made by characters, moments that I will not get into for the sake of this spoiler-free review. However, as mentioned before, there are a couple of moments and plot holes that I have serious questions about.
At its core, A Quiet Place is a well-executed contained horror/thriller with a unique concept, great acting and a powerful family dynamic. While it certainly isn’t a perfect film, the pros most certainly outweigh the cons, and therefore I would highly recommend seeing it in theatres (hopefully with a good audience).