There has been a lot of hype surrounding A Quiet Place in the lead up to its release and it’s not surprising why. First-time horror director John Krasinski of The Office (US) fame also stars as the lead character alongside his wife Emily Blunt, in what is being hailed as the horror movie of the year. But does it match the hype?
The film follows the Abbott family, as they try to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, only a couple of years into the future. What are they trying to survive exactly? An alien invasion of course! The aliens who have decimated the Earth have hypersensitive hearing which means the family must remain quiet at all times in order to survive. I know what you’re thinking – this sounds like a crock of shit, and in some ways the story of the film is. Like all horror films, there is a level of convenience. For instance, the daughter in the family is deaf, so the family has had to learn sign language in order to communicate with her. This helps them to be able to communicate without words, thus making the need for verbal communication basically null and void. Obviously, in a world where any noises made means impending death, this is a huge part of why they’ve survived for as long as they have.
But is the film good? Well, it kind of is actually. The film manages to create tension that grows and grows without the audience properly realizing it. There were a couple of times I realized I had been holding my breath, both out of fear of making a noise myself, but also because I was scared of one of the character’s making a noise. Audio has rarely been utilized as much as it has been in A Quiet Place and it’s horrifically successful. The soundscape is largely quiet, with quiet tense music filling the gaps of normal diegetic noises, and whenever a noise is made, it is amplified in such a way that you can’t help but jump from the break in tension.
I personally didn’t find the film particularly scary and I’m also hesitant to call it a horror as I felt it was more a thriller than anything else. A Quiet Place is a film that gets you thinking about how noisy people are in life, and how much our subconscious cuts surrounding noise out. It made you acutely aware of how noisy people are in the cinemas for instance, and I also quickly realized when I got home and tried to let myself into the house that if we had to be silent, I would be dead pretty quickly.
Emily Blunt was a powerhouse as usual in her role as the mother, Evelyn Abbott, and Millicent Simmonds was great as the deaf daughter Regan. Interestingly Millicent Simmonds is deaf in real life, so the cast had to actually learn a bit of sign language to be able to communicate with her, which I thought brought an authenticity to the film.
There were a couple of issues I thought the film didn’t address properly. The first was that Regan was left by herself too often. She is deaf which means she can’t hear the noises she makes, and while I appreciate she might have been taught how to be quiet, there is no way for her to measure how much noise she is making when she moves heavy objects around and when she walks. There is one scene when she takes off by herself and I honestly thought she was a goner because she had packed items into her bag that had the potential to clutter around as she walked.
My other issue is Evelyn being nine months pregnant and having to give birth in one of the scenes. There is no way in hell a rational minded person would bring a baby into this world. Not only is it a sure way for the entire family to be killed because babies regularly make noise but the birth itself is a noisy affair. Whilst there were a couple of conveniences created to try and cover the stupidity of these scenes, it just wasn’t a realistic scenario. I also didn’t really enjoy the ending, as once again it was all too convenient for me, but it does end on Emily Blunt being a bad ass so that kind of saved it.
Despite this though, the movie is a lesson in how to create tension in a film, and from a director who has never directed a horror film before, it’s not a bad first try. There are definitely more seasoned directors who would have stuffed this film up but John Krasinski brought a lot of emotion and heart to the film, which ultimately has you rooting for the family throughout the whole film.