Release Date(s)2018 (July 10, 2018)
Studio(s)Platinum Dunes/Sunday Night (Paramount)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: A
A Quiet Place takes place in a world where the usual comforts of life are absent. People must be silent, since sound is the enemy and can result in a horrible death.
A father (John Krasinski), mother (Emily Blunt), and their three children attempt to normalize a life that is anything but normal. Grotesque, voracious creatures hover, just waiting to pounce. Although they are blind and their only clue to human presence is sound, even the slightest gasp or crushed leaf or dropped toy can bring forth these demonic monsters. So life must be extremely quiet — no TV, no radio — even a whisper can be lethal.
We see what an unexpected noise can do when the young son activates a mechanical toy and the buzzing causes one of these creatures to snatch him away.
Krasinski, who also co-wrote and directs, offers a fresh take on the horror genre. There are no nubile teens venturing stupidly into danger, no gruesome scenes of torture, and no maniacs with sharp implements stalking about. The monsters, which are pretty awful-looking, are not shown clearly until about halfway through the film. Until then, they’re seen in flashing glimpses that provide shocks while hinting at their size and speed.
It helps that Krasinski and Ms. Blunt (his real-life wife) are both excellent, their characters using expressions and sign language to communicate. Some of the early scenes show a family that not only has acclimated itself to a world without sound, but has meals together (served on vegetable leaves to avoid the clinking of plates), plays Monopoly (using cotton playing pieces), and does laundry (by hand, of course. A whirring washing machine would spell doom). The father is desperately trying to discover weaknesses of the creatures, but hasn’t succeeded.
Though the film doesn’t have a typical soundtrack, it is not without sound. Periodically, we’ll get a loud musical cue when something awful happens or is about to. And the little sounds — breathing, the heartbeat of a baby, a creaky floorboard — create enormous suspense. Are they loud enough to draw the killer beasts? When the father and son head down to a river, the sound of rushing water temporarily breaks the silence and, because the roar of the water is louder than speech, provides cover for the two to talk as in better times.
The movie’s greatest pleasure is that it uses suspense as it should be — to enhance terror, make the viewer anticipate, build tension, and make us care about the family. An example of well-crafted suspense occurs when the pregnant mother is delivering her baby while struggling to remain silent. If she screams, both she and the baby will perish.
The script never addresses where these creatures came from. Whether they are alien creatures or the result of mutation or some other source doesn’t really matter. The focus is on one family and its constant, ongoing attempts to keep silent and survive. Attempting to explain the unexplainable would only cause distraction. Title cards tell us what day it is in the nightmare chronology and that sense of time illustrates the ingenuity of the couple and their kids to keep from becoming human prey.
Rated PG-13, A Quiet Place is an excellent horror thriller. Combining some basic elements of the genre with an interesting concept makes for an exciting motion picture.
Bonus materials on the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include the behind-the-scenes featurettes Creating the Quiet: Behind the Scenes of A Quiet Place; The Sound of Darkness: Editing Sound for A Quiet Place, and A Reason for Silence: The Visual Effects of A Quiet Place. A digital copy is enclosed.
- Dennis Seuling