Who would’ve thought that a theatrical directorial debut by John Krasinski would result in one of the best horrors in recent memory? Most certainly not me.
A Quiet Place is based on a story by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, it follows the story of a family attempting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world with creatures that are attracted to loud noises shadows – the family must do whatever is necessary to stay quiet and stay safe.
A film built around the concept of silence and the danger of the slightest noise is a film with tension and the tension that this film constructs is at the forefront of why A Quiet Place stands as a near case-study example of horror done right. From the beginning of the first act we are immediately subjugated to a horrifying introduction of the world that these characters reside in, setting the tone and a pace that endlessly builds. It feels as if no moment is wasted as the film builds on the concept of noise equaling danger; your ears become accustomed toward detecting the slightest of sounds, further immersing you in the heart-pounding story. Any moment could be a character’s last, even a slightly loud noise could potentially spell instant death on the spot.
This film is the most terrifying film adaptation and highest stake version of hide-and-go-seek that I’ve ever seen. Audiences sit in constant anxiety as any sound could cause things to kick into gear, much like how the film It Follows (2014) uses its monster to endlessly shadow the characters, A Quiet Place also has that same constant air of death that shadows over even in the most peaceful of moments, during broad daylight or with friends and family, you never feel safe. Simultaneously given a world that must abide by those laws, locations with naturally loud sound like a waterfall will be a safe haven for noise, allowing you to speak freely.
Primarily the screen time was fairly split between the characters, with Emily Blunt and John Krasinski containing the most. There is no doubt that Blunt held up the strongest performance in this film, as Blunt’s character dealt with being a pregnant mother during the events of this film, with a strong motherly instinct the theme of parenthood sits prominently throughout this film. There are times where she is forced to keep silent at the most heart pounding moments for her survival, forcing her to to writhe in pain while remaining utterly silent. While much of the communication between actors is based on sign language and nonverbal cues we get a nice range of emotion from most of the cast. John Krasinski plays a strong fatherly role with a determined mindset to keep his family safe at all costs. We also get a nicely added performance from child actor Noah Jupe, his genuine display of fear felt authentic and helped add tension to scenes when the parents were attempting to keep a strong face.
Visually this film had a fantastic aesthetic, from the bleaker and more realistic tone of the cinematography to the intimate and carefully placed camera-work – the use of color and the placement of the camera throughout tension driven scenes helped drive the buildups toward a heart pounding moment. Despite these sharp visuals behind the camera, when CGI rendering comes into the picture we get very shaky results, the monster struggles to look visually convincing at any given moment apart from when it moves at great speed and this translates to a somewhat immersion breaking feeling when you get close-up shots. Though the monster is intelligently crafted it does sit in line with many of the other generic monster aesthetics seen in most sci-fi’s these days.
The production design in general was astoundingly well thought-out, everything in the house and on the farm had been laid out to account for noise and ease of access. Additionally the overall use of sound throughout this film was powerful and gripping, as all the noise bleeds out of the room you find yourself feeling more unsettled, not for jump scares, but for the characters making an accidental noise.
A Quiet Place no doubt stands as one of the more originally crafted horrors in recent years, with gripping tension and intelligently crafted ideas to keep audiences on the edge of their seat. John Krasinski has made noise with this film and he’ll remain under my radar for his future projects. You will feel every creek, every rustle, and every footstep in this tension filled experience; A Quiet Place utilises nearly every component of its intense and cleverly crafted horror setting, digging its claws into the viewer and forcing them to experience the terrifying threat that constantly looms over the characters.