As a film viewer, I am sometimes guilty of taking sound for granted.
That was the first thought that I had while watching A Quiet Place, a horror film that came out earlier this year. The film takes place in the near future, after the Earth has been invaded by aliens who track their prey by sound. Lee Abbott (John Krasinski, who also directed), his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt), and their children (including Millicent Simmonds) have learned that the only way to survive is to do everything in silence. They communicate with sign lanague. They walk carefully, knowing that even the sound of a footstep could lead to doom.
If ever the old cliché about echoing silence was true, it’s true while watching A Quiet Place. Because Krasinski starts the film by showing us what happens when one forgets to be silent around the aliens, we know what will happen if Lee or his children make the slightest amount of noise and what’s interesting is that those of us watching find ourselves not making any noise as well. Krasinski, Blunt, and Simmonds give such effective performances that you’re drawn into their story. You don’t want them to get killed by the invaders so you make sure to remain quiet yourself.
That doesn’t mean that A Quiet Place is a silent film, of course. Since Lee spends the majority of the film in the woods with his children, there’s the occasional sounds of nature. And towards the end of the film, when someone finally speaks, it’s jarring both because we’ve gotten used to the silence and because we know what’s going to happen next.
My second thought while watching A Quiet Place was “Who knew John Krasinski was capable of this?” I’ve always liked Krasinski as an actor but his previous films as a director leaned a bit towards the pretentious side. There was nothing about his previous films that suggested Krasinski had it in him to direct one of the most creative and tension-filled horror movies of the year. Krasinski proves himself to be an unexpected master of suspense.
But it’s more than horror that makes A Quiet Place effective. A Quiet Place is a film about family. Despite the circumstances, Lee and Evelyn have managed to create a safe household for their children. It may be a silent household but it’s also a loving household and, with Evelyn being pregnant, it’s about to get bigger. Blunt and Krasinski are married in real life and their chemistry is evident every time that they exchange a glance. The film celebrates not only the love of family but the sacrifices that parents make for their children. It’s probably the most pro-family of the year.
A Quiet Place is a short and efficient film. At a time when the average film usually clocks over two hours, A Quiet Place is only 90 minutes long but it achieves so much in those 90 minutes! A Quiet Place is a powerful movie, one that will make you appreciate both families and the noise that they make.