Film Review: John Krasinski finds the terror in sound with "A Quiet Place"
Silence is golden. We bask in the idea that everything that ticks or clicks in the night are premeditated. Yet silence can also be terrifying, times where your breath seems to gauge the fear echoing within.
What is worse - A bump in the night? Or pitch black silence?
Consider the following:
Scenario A: You are laying in bed on a quiet night and an unnatural bump echoes from a short distance. Is the bump worse? Or the silence that follows?
Scenario B: You hear something running amuck in tall weeds, yet it ceases as soon as you investigate. Is the rummaging worse than the silence that follows?
A Quiet Place understands that both scenarios are bloodcurdling in their own right, and uses its understanding of that terror to its utmost effectiveness. The film is the creature-feature lovechild of Hollywood power couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, this being Krasinski's directorial debut. A Quiet Place follows a family that is forced to live in complete silence, lest they get devoured by horrific creatures that hunt by sound.
Though Blunt has made her name as a strong and versatile female heroine, with this film being no exception, Krasinski has been involved in numerous flailing thriller attempts. Studios are constantly striving to turn the sardonic The Office star into America’s new action hero, and yet, it is Krasinski’s first filmmaking effort that has given him the perfect role as an armoured-hearted father, Lee.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. But often, child actors delivering extreme emotions can make or break a film. Thankfully, relative newcomers Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe excel as the children of Blunt and Krasinski’s characters, growing and adapting to the horrifying creature-ridden world. Jupe is fantastic as Marcus, a kid smart enough to be scared of everything, whilst deaf actress Millicent Simmonds shines as the rebellious Regan.
It could be argued that a lack of dialogue would allow actors to slack off, yet every actor portrays so much emotion and intensity through their facial expressions and sign language, which adds a whole other layer of intensity to the horror that is being presented to us on screen.
Never before has a cinema been so quiet: The audio is used to its full effect, or sometimes scarcely at all. With the lack of jump-scare orchestral strings, the soundtrack consists of tangy piano pieces and the classic goosebump-inducing score ‘The Beast’ (from the fantastic Blunt-starring Sicario), which seems to have paved the way for modern thriller soundtracks with its roar. Whilst the piano score can get repetitive at times and seems to be there only to emphasise the emotions on screen, it is forgiven as the sound of fellow moviegoers munching on popcorn can become overbearing.
A Quiet Place gifts us with a frightening monster. While its design is visually similar to the monsters we’ve seen in many recent creature-features (think Cloverfield), it’s ruthless hunting style and chilling speed provide decent enough twists to prevent the monster from total overexposure. However, the creatures are not the only terrifying aspect here. The film is shrouded in a brilliantly thick and tensely lonesome and hopeless atmosphere. Red lightbulbs, moonlight and a decent amount of gore attribute to gorgeous cinematography, which would awaken anyone's old fear of the dark.
Though occasional over-exposition and convenient monster placement are jarring, A Quiet Place succeeds as an atmospheric and white knuckles thriller that benefits from a clever script, solid acting and a terrifying creature. This all adds to a remarkable directorial debut that’ll keep audiences screaming louder than the film itself.