I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, how could a man of such juvenile sensibilities refrain from headlining this review, Silent But Deadly. Well guys, let me tell you, it was a struggle. But alas, maybe leading with a fart joke is (finally) a thing of the past.
A Quiet Place is not the directorial debut of John (Is That The Guy From The Office) Krasinksi, but it is his directorial debut of a film anybody has seen. Krasinski also stars alongside real life wife, Emily Blunt. A Quiet Place is an excellent little horror film focused entirely on a family living in silence on a farm in upstate New York. The basic premise is that humanity has been all but wiped out by sightless monsters who hunt based on sound. The Abbott family has survived in large part because one of their children is deaf and they all speak sign language.
The film opens with one of the most effective horror movie hooks I’ve seen in a very long time. It reminded me of a quieter (ha ha), smaller version of the Final Destination film openers. After that opening scene, we jump ahead one year as we’re introduced to the nuts and bolts of how this family has survived. Sand paths, clever lighting, surveillance, lines of defense, basic daily protocols, all the details that really sell a small scope story like this whose effectiveness relies almost entirely on the audience accepting the basic premise.
At this point I’d like to point out that eating popcorn while watching this movie is like standing on stage in your underwear. It seems like all the attention is on you. So you chew long and slow, as quiet as you possibly can. It’s pretty futile. Thankfully, I got half the bowl down before the movie even started.
I would be remiss if I did not point out that there are some things about the middle of the film that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The A-number 1 thing being, where are they getting power from? It’s a big one. They can’t use generators, which are loud as hell and would quickly serve as a dinner bell. They make no mention of solar panels or wind turbines. It’s a serious detail that requires addressing, but yet is ignored.
Otherwise, the 2nd act may prove a little slow for some, but it’s filled with nice character work by all the actors, including the young actress who plays their deaf daughter who is also deaf in real life. Her story is fairly central to the film. She feels responsible for a tragic turn of events early on and thinks her father doesn’t love her anymore as a result. It’s handled subtly, believably and with confidence, a testament to her performance and Krasinski’s directorial skills. There’s another parallel familial storyline going on concurrently that I am hesitant to specify. It definitely brings this review into spoiler territory and I’d rather not ruin anything for you. I’m going to skip over it… you’ll either buy it or you won’t. I bought it, but wanted it to be fleshed out a bit more. That’s all I’ll say.
As the second act winds down, the third act kicks off with a character accidentally injuring themselves in a way we can all relate to, which would serve as more of a nuisance than anything in the real world. And from then on, A Quiet Place is a quiet freight train, moving forward with thrilling intensity. There are some effective jump scares, but it’s the slow burn tension and restrained filmmaking techniques in the 3rd act that elevates the film beyond b-movie shlock. It’s as exciting a game of cat and mouse as I’ve seen in recent memory, whose climax is as terrifying as it is moving.
There are several hints to a larger cinematic world within the running time of the film. The most interesting of which is the innuendo that the Abbott family members are not the only survivors in the area. Seems like fodder for a sequel to me. A sequel I’d happily pay to see. Quiet, confident and cerebral horror movies seem to be on the rise again after many years of found footage, torture porn and jump scares. It’s a welcome re-evolution of the genre.
p.s. If you have a movie theater in your area known for loud, chatty audiences, don’t see A Quiet Place there. Inconsiderate theater douches are a tough obstacle to enjoying any movie, but for this one, they’re deadly. Deadly Douches. Sounds like a movie I’d also pay to see. Actually, it sounds like a movie I’d make. Ha, there’s hope for me yet.