Film Review: A Quiet Place

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A Quiet Place

Film Review

John Krasinksi’s A Quite Place follows one family’s efforts for survival in a post-apocalyptic world where the only thing that can save you is silence. It’s been marketed as a horror film, which is fair in the sense that the film is tense, griping, and exists in a well-realized nightmarish, dystopian landscape. However, I think the film is better approached as a thriller. It certainly doesn’t compare to the various slasher films or the endless found footage sequels and rehashes that reside in the horror genre. A Quiet Place has its share of scares and white-knuckling scenes, but it certainly isn’t defined by these horror moments. What defines A Quiet Place is its refreshingly original concept and its exquisite execution.

To start, the performances from the entire cast is quite impressive, especially coming from Millicent Simmons and Noah Jupe who perform alongside Emily Blunt and John Krasinski as their son and daughter respectively. It’s no surprise that Blunt turns in a solid performance, especially under Krasinski’s direction. Furthermore, Krasinski surprises on multiple levels here, proving that he is quite capable of thoughtful and serious character development. This isn’t to say that Krasisnki hasn’t provided a serious performance before, having starred in Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. But I walked into A Quiet Place not having seen Bay’s film, leaving me with only the American adaption of The Office to reference for Krasinski’s past work as an actor. But now having seen A Quiet Place, I can say that Krasinski has shown a fantastic range with this work, which is even more impressive considering his accompanying directorial responsibilities. Simmons’ character is def throughout the entire runtime and is played by a def actress, which is quite a feat in itself. And I have to say that this challenge really does pay off in the end, as Simmons’ gives a wonderful performance and adds another layer of depth to the film’s consistent creation of anxiety in respect to sound or a lack thereof.

The sound design in this film is also quite a remarkable thing. Everything from footsteps in sand, the atmosphere of this dystopian farm land, to the unsettling noises from the mysterious creatures represent the filmmakers’ careful attention to all aspects of their craft. In a film about silence, every sound counts. And with minimal dialogue, the filmmakers have a big responsibility to make sure that the progression of the film doesn’t feel tedious to the audience. The team behind A Quiet Place unequivocally prove that they are fully capable of taking on this responsibility and handle it with great confidence. Each time the audio is noticeable, there is a purpose for it and a consequence that is experienced by the characters. Krasinski uses this wonderful tool to craft an entirely new set of rules for his film. Another inspired choice by the filmmakers has to do with where the film lacks audio. With Millicent Simmons character being def, every time we see things from her perspective, sound completely cuts out. And this method is used for some of the tensest scenes in the film, which adds even more panic to what is appearing in each frame. The screenplay utilizes the film’s relationship with sound to go a step further and present what communication is like when someone can’t hear or when other characters cannot speak. It makes for some truly authentic conflict and unique emotional behavior that I haven’t seen before in cinema. The family dynamics are something truly original and this makes the story all the more interesting.

A Quiet Place is also a brilliant movie from a visual stand-point. The way Krasinski and his production designer portray the lifestyle of this family is well-developed. The set dressing has a very intriguing quality that just bleeds off the screen. This feeling also benefits the central plot of the film and helps give the audience subtle hints at backstory. The film starts right in the middle of this family’s journey and doesn’t explain many of the audience’s immediate questions, so the subtle clues given with props, production design, and wardrobe help the audience paint a much fuller picture. Krasinski’s trust in the subtlety of storytelling goes to show that he has an incredibly deep understanding of what makes cinema so powerful. Because, often times, what the audience comes up with in their heads is much more important and impactful than what is given to them with the film. The director understands that filmmaking is about what you don’t show the audience, and that is a practice you don’t see often.

What’s so exciting about A Quiet Place isn’t its originality. It’s exciting because of its clear understanding of what makes film an energetic medium. This is a film that shows strong craft, a fresh vision, and most importantly a healthy dose of restraint. A Quiet Place is well informed in its genre and firmly grounded in its human story. It’s a seemingly simple film, centered around simple idea that has complexity in the details. Films like this don’t come around as often as they should, but it is surely a treat when they do.

A Quiet Place was released on April 6th, 2018 and remains in theaters. It runs 1hr 35m and currently holds a rating of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.