A Quiet Place review by Leon Woodley
There was a time that this would have been the perfect project for M. Night Shyamalan. It even has the feel of one of his early movies, Signs. Signs is one of my favourite movies which is probably part of why I adore A Quiet Place so much. However, John Krasinski has taken it to another level.
The basic premise is similar to Signs, or at least the latter part of that movie. Both sets of characters spend a large amount of the movie isolated from the outside world and hiding from dangerous creatures in the rural countryside. The two movies also share a willingness to only show the creatures when deemed absolutely necessary. Much like another one of my favourite movies Jaws, that which is hidden and menacing is much scarier than that which we see.
Where A Quiet Place really starts to differ is the sound. We’re introduced to a world which seems to have been invaded and mostly taken over unnamed monsters. The only things we learn about the world are from old newspaper clippings. Whatever events happened before the movie it doesn’t seem to have gone well for humanity. However, the family we follow in the film has learnt to live a very subtle balance between family life and bringing certain death upon themselves.
The creatures in A Quiet Place prey on noise. They appear to be blind and presumably have no sense of smell. But if a sound above a whisper is made the super fast beasts will be on their prey in seconds. After suffering a devastating loss, we rejoin our family as they try to pick up the pieces, whilst also preparing for the coming of a new baby.
The family communicates via a combination of sign language and whispering. Even with these restrictions Krasinski is able to get the audience to connect and empathise with them. We feel the constant fear they live under, but also feel the love they feel for each other even though there is an underlying sadness.
The use of sound and most importantly lack of sound is astonishing. I’d be surprised if there is more than ten lines of dialogue in the whole film. Silence means survival. The director teaches the audience to also fear noise. You will spend half of the film in fear that something will be knocked over, or that someone will unexpectedly cough bringing the creatures upon the family. It really is nail biting stuff.
The arrival of a baby should be a time of joy, but it’s also here tinged with danger as the coming of the baby is also a ticking time bomb. Yes, the family can do their best to stay quiet, but a baby presents an unprecedented problem, which they do admittedly have a grim but practical solution to.
There are a couple issues I had with the film while watching it, such as the somewhat obvious hero moment at the end, (why did no one else on earth work this out) or a lack of a decent explanation as to how the dangerous but simple-minded creatures could take over the planet. But in hindsight none of that matters. It’s not the story the film wants to tell. The true story and the true horror of the film comes from the is much more simplistic. What if a disaster/ attack happened that was so big, so traumatic that the outside world couldn’t help. All you have to rely on is your family. All you can do is protect your family. That is this movies genius. It’s a disaster movie that is relatable, in a way that most disaster movies are not. We are able to relate and put ourselves into this family’s place, which means you also feel their fear in a way that is quite unique.
Krasinski echoes Shyamalan and Spielberg at the height of their directing powers but brings a level of skill and artistry from only his fourth feature film that is amazing to witness. It’s by no means perfect but Krasinski is a director to keep an eye on.