There’s plenty about “A Quiet Place” worth pondering, but one of the aspects of this film that I really can’t stop thinking about is how much it feels like a deviation from John Krasinski’s career up to this point. For this project, Krasinski directs, writes and acts in an intense horror film with nary a joke in sight — an audacious move considering he’s primarily worked in comedies up to this point. In addition to stepping way outside his creative wheelhouse, Krasinski has managed to deliver a top-notch horror movie in “A Quiet Place,” one that shows a remarkable level of care and craft going into it. The starting premise for this feature is that Earth has been overrun with monsters that attack organisms based on sound. Thus, all the surviving humans must make as little noise as possible if they want any hope of making it through another day.
Among these few surviving humans are Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) and Lee Abbott (Krasinski), who are looking to keep their kids safe in this dangerous world. One of their offspring is Regan Abbott (Millicent Simmonds), our lead character for the story, a young deaf girl who struggles to connect with her father. “A Quiet Place” keeps its story refreshingly simple, first and foremost by offering little explanation for where these monsters come from or what they want. Why do we need that information? What’s important is that they provide omnipresent danger for the characters, not why they’re attacking our planet. That’s the kind of streamlined storytelling decision that abounds in the screenplay for “A Quiet Place” (which was penned by Krasinski, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods), which keeps its story free of convoluted details that could distract from it’s primary mission of telling a tale of a family struggling to stick together in a world falling apart.
The various members of the Abbott family each have their own internal struggles to deal with. The film takes a character-centric approach that works wonderfully for the feature, especially when it focuses on Regan’s storyline, which depicts her strained relationship with her father in a realistic and thoughtful manner. Though they’re given the spotlight in the first half of the story, the various storylines for the assorted characters aren’t forgotten once the second half of the movie — which is primarily interested in various intense scary sequences — kicks in. And the extended humanization of the characters makes the scares all the more frightening to experience.
Oh boy, the scares in “A Quiet Place.” This is an intense film, and it’s established from the get-go that this is a world with no mercy — death is waiting around every corner as “A Quiet Place” never lets that omnipresent atmosphere of unpredictable intensity go. The way the film uses the tiniest sound, as well as carefully employed camerawork, to put you on the edge of your seat is incredible, there’s evident craftsmanship going into how “A Quiet Place” executes its various scary scenes, even the jump scares show thoughtfulness in their presentation.
The scares in “A Quiet Place” are top-notch. The second half of the film, especially, is a barrage of frightening nightmare fuel. Just as impressive for my money is the performances here, which smartly hew close to the kind of performances one would see in classic silent movies. The fact that making noise leads to your doom in the world of “A Quiet Place” means the film has minimal spoken dialogue, as characters typically speak in American Sign Language for communication. This means actors have to take a cue from the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Clara Bow and say a lot in body language and facial expressions, a challenge Krasinski and Blunt are both very much up for. These are two actors who have garnered some of their best bits of acting in the past in dialogue-free moments, most notably Krasinski’s various looks to the camera on “The Office,” and that skill comes in handy here.
The cast in “A Quiet Place” is overall aces. They excel working in such a unique premise brought to life with an inventive vision, as the world of “A Quiet Place” looks more normal than post-apocalyptic, as well as the unique designs of the monsters hunting our main characters. That kind of creativity exists in spades, making it no wonder that the highly entertaining and also highly intense feature leaves one with plenty to ponder beyond simply what a wonderful and artistically promising departure it is from John Krasinski’s past work.
Douglas Laman is a film critic, who, when not watching movies, attends Collin College, hangs out with friends and… watches movies. For more of his work and ramblings, visit his website at www.landofthenerds.blogspot.com