2nd April (UK) 6th April (US)
A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.
Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Noah Jupe
In their 1990 hit single ‘Enjoy The Silence’, British synth-pop outfit Depeche Mode warned that ‘words are very unnecessary; they can only do harm’. In John Krasinski’s terrifying horror A Quiet Place never has a more truthful phrase been uttered.
Beginning nearly three months after an unexplained but catastrophic event, A Quiet Place takes place in a world of forced silence due to horrific monsters who use their heightened sense of sound to hunt. The film follows Lee (Krasinski), his heavily pregnant wife Evelyn and their three young children: deaf daughter Regan, playful and oblivious Beau and the protective Marcus. Together they must look out for each other and keep noise levels to an absolute minimum if they are to survive each day.
It takes less than five minutes for Krasinski to prove he’s not messing around with A Quiet Place. A brutal and uncompromising opening scene sets the relentless tone for the road ahead and confirms his commitment to the idea of having no sound present is deadly serious. Characters interact with sign language and emotive facial expressions and the score is a simple, unnerving out of tune guitar. Unlike 2016s Don’t Breathe, the silence is not a gimmick simply used in select scenes to manufacture a cheap jump scare. No, it is an integral part of the entire picture and he wisely doesn’t rush to find a workaround to let characters speak. It does happen, eventually, but for at least a solid 30 minutes not a single word is spoken. Don’t expect in-depth explanations either: we join the action over 80 days in, and there’s no solid reason for what happened or how the monsters came to Earth. It’s a refreshing take and allows us to focus on the few characters.
The consistently still nature of scenes means the scares are wildly unpredictable too. You can usually guess when a startling moment is coming in a typical horror from a few seconds of calm, or an expendable teen searching around an empty house with creaky floorboards followed by a loud crash. Krasinski, a complete newcomer to horror directing, drags the reticence out in unbearably long and taut stretches of noiselessness with the payoff almost always being worth the wait.
The human-hunting monsters are well designed, although there are certainly similarities to the Cloverfield creature. I loved the idea of the world essentially giving up on trying to kill them because of how tough and seemingly unbeatable they are and instead entirely altering the way of living to give themselves some chance at surviving. Small touches such as putting sand on oft-used pathways, walking barefoot and so forth which make this world a thoroughly believable one.
Known for his larger-than-life, lovable character Jim on the US sitcom The Office, Krasinski’s Lee is as far removed from that creation as possible; here, he’s resourceful, always alert and intensely serious. His real-world wife Emily Blunt plays his on-screen one Evelyn who is carrying their fourth child. It makes for an intriguing dramatic scenario, but I’m finding it hard to fathom any reasons why the couple decided to have a screaming baby when they’re in a situation where the most minute of sounds will get you killed. Nevertheless, Blunt impresses in what is also her first foray into the genre and exhibits great promise for future ventures into horror.
But it’s the young cast members who deserve the most praise. Millicent Simmonds, who genuinely suffers from deafness, is a revelation as Regan and Noah Jupe is strikingly confident as her brother Marcus. The film is very much about the strength of family bonds as much as it’s about monstrous creatures, and the two definitely overlap and conflict on a few occasions.
With so much of the film relying on a hushed atmosphere, if you’re thinking of catching it in the cinema (which I highly recommend doing) there’s a legitimate reason to worry about the audience you’re seeing A Quiet Place with. Horrors do tend to attract a younger, thrill-seeking audience who are in search of a forgettable joltfest, but A Quiet Place demands more than that – to achieve its maximum effect, it requires your full attention for its duration. I was fortunate to be in the company of others who acted like any noise they made, whether it be rustling of food wrappers or coughing, would affect the action on screen. I imagine there was a whole lot of concession items left uneaten in fear of disturbing others, but ultimately it’s a sign that the cinema goers were utterly engrossed in the story being told.
A Quiet Place is an agonisingly tense exercise in the power of audio. The tired horror genre needed a fresh pair of eyes and ears in the form of Krasinski to make audiences listen up – and those who do will be rewarded with one of the best monster movies of the decade.
Krasinski's commitment to silence
Convincing performances from all, especially the young cast
Unpredictable scares due to excruciating, drawn-out periods of no noise
I still can't figure out why they'd run the risk of having another child in this world