SPOILER ALERT: Nothing that you can't find in the official trailer.
A Quiet Place is a horror film for the ages, blending artful craftsmanship with heart-stopping suspense in service of a deliciously clever concept.
John Krasinski drops the mic in so many ways in his first studio effort. A Quiet Place is about a lone family living in a world where most of the population has been liquidated by creatures that hunt by sound, and the only way to stay hidden from them is to be silent. The unfavorable and unenviable conditions in which the family finds themselves makes for compelling drama right from the onset. It almost begs you to invest in it just based on concept alone. How the hell are they going to get out of this situation?
This is a post-apocalyptic setting where I would absolutely choose death over survival, so to see a family willfully brave this awful world makes for some really juicy cinema. I could get used to the Mad Max post-apocalypse, but this? Hard pass. The characters aren't complete morons either, which makes watching them survive, and deducing how they've survived this long, all the more compelling and interesting. Even better, they don't resort to lengthy, expository dialogue dumps to explain why they're trying to survive and how they've done it. They just survive, and we're thrown right into it with them. Visual storytelling! How novel!
There was only one logical leap of faith that I had to take as a viewer, and it wasn’t even a bad one. Planned or otherwise (it’s not explicitly stated), I couldn’t help but dwell on the idea that these people thought that now, the era when every living thing has been ravaged by sound-sensitive death machines, was the right time to bring a new baby screaming into existence. Perhaps the pull-out method didn't survive this au-pocalypse, more likely it was just one of those things that happens in extraordinary emotional circumstances. Regardless, while I did sit there thinking "these motherfuckers couldn't have picked a worse time," I was still extremely invested in how they were going to go through with it, and it yielded some of the most suspenseful moments I've seen in a modern horror film.
Major props have to go to the cast for making their misfortune believable. Krasinski is good as the father figure, but Emily Blunt really does the lion's share of the great acting here, as a pregnant mother trying to care for her family in an unimaginable hellscape. The casting of the actually-deaf Millicent Simmonds was also a welcome and inspired one. Krasinski noted that he wanted to cast a deaf person in the role to help inform his understanding of the situation, and it seems to have paid off in believability dividends, from the way the family interacts with one another, to the sound design.
And on that note, sound, and the absence of it, plays a vital role in this film, and thankfully the sound design team really showed up for this one. The way they play with sound to show different characters' perspectives was especially tasty, and added to the already-immersive experience. I was a little surprised to hear how much score there was. It didn’t detract from the film, but I do wonder how a scoreless version would fare. In an interview, Krasinski justified his use of a traditional score to give the film more mainstream appeal and not alienate the audience, while using the score to punctuate those silent moments even more. I think it worked, but I'd love to see a version of this that uses no music whatsoever. Perhaps for home video? John? Please?
A Quiet Place is one of those rare films that feels like it was made for me. Simple, clever, tense, and engaging. Not to mention the fact it has a breezy 90 minute runtime, which is always a welcome thing. I have no complaints. Just go see it.