Mum's the word in John Krasinski's "A Quiet Place"

By Matt Mancuso
On April 9, 2018

Photo courtesy of GDC Graphics, Wikipedia

In today’s bloated landscape of horror movie flicks, an effective gimmick goes a long way in helping a film stand out from the crowd. It’s good news, then, that the silent tension found in “A Quiet Place” is justified by the film’s setup.

The premise of “A Quiet Place” is simple. A small family of five are among the few remaining survivors after an unknown attack on humanity wipes out modern civilization.

The father of the family, Lee (John Krasinski) and his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) survive each day making as little noise as possible, teaching their children to follow in their footsteps. Any significant noise brings trouble not long after, and the film revolves around how the family takes measures to stay quiet, and thus, be safe.

In some ways, “A Quiet Place” echoes “Don’t Breathe,” a 2016 horror movie that emphasized the characters making as little noise as possible. It’s a smart technique for building tension; after all, the best time to scare the audience is when the movie is silent, and in both of these films, surprises can lurk around every corner.

Unsurprisingly, there are jump scares to be found in “A Quiet Place.” Coming from someone that finds most horror movie jump scares to be poorly handled, I never found any of the ones in this movie that obnoxious. They felt appropriately timed, for the most part. In their absence, though, was left a feeling of anxiousness that lasted nearly the entire watch.

This feeling of dread persisted the whole movie, and I loved it. It helps that there is barely any spoken dialogue in the film, with each of the characters relying on sign language and whispers to communicate. When sounds do show up, they’re made all the more frightening by this lack of conversation.

Each of the actors perform well on-screen. Any fear of annoying child actors are quickly put to rest, as each of the kids also provide a solid performance. Only one family member has a full character arc, but it’s focused and well written. Every actor behaves as you’d expect, with no “Why would you do that?” moments of frustration that can sometimes pop up in horror movies, when the audience questions the protagonist’s motivations.

There isn’t much of a backstory to be found here, which for some viewers may be disappointing, but I think the audience was provided enough information to come up with an interesting precursor of events ourselves.

My only big criticism shows up in the final ten minutes. The ending felt abrupt, with a finale that feels a little forced and out-of-place from the rest of the film. I also wish we saw more interaction with other survivors, as the story relies almost entirely on the family’s survival.

Still, it provided a complete package, avoiding any silly cliffhangers or indication that a sequel must be created. I’d say “A Quiet Place” is among the more memorable horror films I’ve seen lately. With a cast that plays their part very well, interesting set design, and some set pieces that keep the movie tense all throughout, I’d recommend this one to anyone that is even slightly interested by the movie’s premise.

 

mmancus1@ramapo.edu

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