Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
In "A Quiet Place," director John Krasinski's big step into mainstream movie making, there's one sequence that will be talked about and debated in horror circles for decades to come. While you might've noticed in the trailer, the scene involves lead actress (and wife to Krasinski), a pregnant Emily Blunt, going into labor, while a pesky, prickly, and demonizing creature lurks around her shoulder. The premise of the film is that if you make even a sliver of noise, these things will chomp you up like yesterday's leftovers. You can see how this could be problematic. It's a tantalizing, harrowing, and anxiety building trifecta that cements Krasinski as one of the most promising filmmakers making movies today.
That's not the only scene that will manage to sneak up on you, because in a film that hardly utters any words, it has quite a bit to say. At the start "Day 89" plasters on the screen and we see missing children posters covering street signs like wallpaper, grocery stores are abandoned and one family scavenging for supplies. We immediately get the vibe of an apocalyptic setting. But what makes these folks so afraid to make noise? At first, it’s unclear. Yet, even taking the batteries out of a toy rocket that could *potentially* make a fuss was like watching someone defuse a nuclear bomb.
We learn that beasts or monsters (whichever you wanna call them) have somehow taken over the world, and while there’re newspaper clippings that dub them "Dark Angels" their true lineage is never specified. We do know, however, these creatures can pick you apart just by hearing the patter of footsteps, which means walking on sand to alleviate the sound is a must.
The family has done everything they can to adapt to the situation. Learning sign language to help communicate, and replacing pieces on a Monopoly board too. Like the characters in the film we're walking on pins and needles, waiting for the big moment when a sound will be made and all hell will break loose. The movie does a fine job at keeping dialogue to a minimum, only talking when absolutely necessary, which helped me hang onto every word. This is, in essence, a silent film and credit needs to be given to composer Marco Beltrami for creating the sounds and echoes we hear in the background. In a way, he's the real star of this movie.
Krasinski, who not only co-wrote and directed this film, also stars as Lee, the conventional father figure archetype doing his best to understand this wasteland. His kids also face their own adversity, for Regan (Millicent Simmonds) she was born with a hearing impairment and constantly feels alienated because she can't hear the monsters unlike the rest of the crew; brother Marcus (Noah Jupe) feels the weight of his father's shoes calling him; and Evelyn (Blunt) has to figure out how to raise a newborn in this environment. They manage to convey all these emotions and feelings in the most toxic landscape imaginable.
"A Quiet Place" does a flawless job at not exposing its secrets. Proving that Krasinski is an effective storyteller, underlying certain scenes with drawings and writings of the creatures. "What are there weakness?" he writes "how many confirmed in the area?" A fascinating narrative that only gets bolstered as we sit patiently, until the final half hour which pins you in utter submission. Lets just say my anxiety was reaching fever pitch levels, and I can't speak for everyone sitting around me, but I’d wager they felt the urgency too.
Though the final act does border on the more weepy/melodramatic side, which is a true shame considering how expertly directed this film is, you almost wish they didn't go for the easy punches. They're fine, but up till that point, the execution had been precise and mandated. The only minor instance where screenwriters Bryan Woods and Scott Beck showed a lapse in judgement.
Small quibbles aside, "A Quiet Place" is an exceptional piece of quality filmmaking. You walk out feeling as though you just witnessed something, which only comes when you've seen a good scary movie. Just make sure to keep the chomping on your popcorn to a minimum.
Rated PG13 for terror and some bloody images
Runtime: 90 minutes