Home > Reviews > REVIEW – A Quiet Place

REVIEW – A Quiet Place

Directed by: John Krasinski
Produced by: Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller
Written by: Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski
Edited by: Christopher Tellefsen
Cinematography by: Charlotte Bruus Christensen
Music by: Marco Beltrami
Starring: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward
Year: 2018

 

Damn. Who knew that Krasinski had this in him? Always an affable actor, Krasinski’s work behind the camera, unfortunately, has been less than… well, good up until this point. Krasinski made his directorial debut in 2009 with the David Foster Wallace adaptation Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, which seemingly passed through the public consciousness without much notice. It took another seven years for the actor-turned-director to take another shot at directing with 2016’s The Hollars, a star-studded family dramedy that similarly fizzled. Luckily, Krasinski seemingly isn’t one to back down, as his third film, A Quiet Place, is an unexpected, drastic departure from his previous two productions, with the director putting together a fairly intense, bold horror film that has me wondering if he just hadn’t found his niche until now.

Only a few months after vicious alien creatures crashed into the earth, most of humanity has seemingly been wiped out. The discovery that these creatures are blind but hypersensitive to sound came too late, but a few resourceful groups have survived, including the Abbott family – though not necessarily without incident. The family’s oldest, Regan, is deaf, and so their understanding of sign language to communicate has largely put them at an advantage. They’re also resourceful and hyper-conscientious about their surroundings, so that also helps. Unfortunately, they are not immune to tragedy, and this begins to put a strain on even the resourceful Abbotts, particularly on the relationship between Regan, who can’t help but blame herself for how things went wrong, and Lee, her father, who doesn’t quite know how to reach out to a daughter who would already be struggling to grow up in their previous life, let alone one where vicious monsters could be around any corner.

Much of the film’s success comes down to atmosphere and, even more importantly, performances. While the film is perhaps just a touch heavy on the suddenly-a-loud-noise variety of jump scares – both diegetic and in Marco Beltrami’s often heart-pounding score – the scenes of terror are largely outnumbered by the quiet, grim depiction of this family’s solemn existence on an otherwise picturesque farm in the woods. One wrong step or chance occurrence of any sound above a whisper could mean the difference between life and sudden death, and so the film is largely devoid of spoken dialogue except in a few key scenes. Luckily, even if you can’t read American Sign Language, you can largely understand what’s being communicated through the actors’ body language.

Real life couple Emily Blunt and Krasinski play the heads of the Abbott household, Evelyn and Lee, and their love for one another and their kids comes through authentically, without feeling the need to prove anything, like you might expect and likely have already seen from other co-starring spouses. The kids, too, are strong, believable presences, with the obvious standout being Millicent Simmonds as Regan, whose strained relationship with her father is the cornerstone of the film’s emotional drama. It’s not your usual teenage angst and rebellion, but rather a frustration built upon an enormous amount of unresolved guilt, potential resentment, and questions of self-worth that, thankfully, have ultimately nothing to do with her deafness but rather the consequences of some unfortunate mistakes that anyone could’ve made, and Simmonds and Krasinski, as they say, do a great job of portraying this relationship.

If I had any critiques, it’s that the film’s timeline feels too compact. Apart from a prologue, the film’s events take place over the course of only a couple days, beginning on day 89 of the invasion and then suddenly jumping forward in time to day 472 and slowing down to then cover just two very jam-packed days’ worth of major events. It’s not so much that I wanted to see the time that happened in between as much as I wish that the filmmakers hadn’t decided to stretch out the timeline even further. Day 89… Day 472… Day 535… etc. This approach not only would’ve allowed for the events to have a bit of breathing room, but also helped with believability. For the family to make it to Day 89, when clearly a lot of humanity has already been killed or gone into hiding, then also make it to 472 without, apparently, another incident and then suddenly deal with so many things at once takes away from some of the realism. I don’t think they would have had to add more content, even, though at a mere 91 minutes, I actually feel like an additional 10 would’ve been welcome, if only to give some breathing room to explore the themes or even just moments more than what we get. Conversely, perhaps, they should’ve just taken out the few on-screen time markers altogether and left the timeline more ambiguous. It’s a classic case of explaining too much and yet also not enough at the same time. Then again, I don’t know if everyone’s going to be thinking of that too much, if at all, when so much else is still excellent.

Sure, there are a few convenient plot developments and minor but undoubtedly stupid oversights made on the characters’ parts that seem out of character that I could also discuss, but those are otherwise minor problems in what is otherwise a thrilling and sometimes even downright moving horror film – and one that comes from such an unexpected source, too! It’s a fairly intelligent, thematically satisfying, and impressively well-performed monster movie that handles its exploration of familial love and moving on from tragedy much more adeptly than the entertaining but sometimes frustratingly contrived Signs and yet also aspires to achieve the same blend of thoughtfulness and quiet terror as last year’s It Comes at Night while not alienating those who maybe just want to watch a scary movie without having to write a mental essay to understand it. It’s very good and was justifiably rewarded at the box office. Now we just have to worry about the true terror around the corner: the almost immediately greenlit upcoming sequel…

The Viewer’s Commentary Rating: 4 / 5

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