A Quiet Place
A Quiet Place is terrifying and tense in all of the right ways. Director John Krasinski's use (or lack thereof) of sound makes for a rather unique viewing experience.
Director/writer/producer/actor John Krasinski has really started to make a name for himself over the past few years. Shifting his usual comedic persona for roles that are a bit more serious and meaty. Now, Krasinski has started to direct his own features, with A Quiet Place being a monumental step for him as an artist honing in on a unique vision. A Quiet Place is tense and startling, capturing horror through increased senses, focusing on sight, sound and touch in a way that’s surely going to give you nightmares.
Something has happened. Creatures have started to wipe out cities and reduce the population to small batches of people living alone and off the grid. Lee (John Krasinski) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) have adapted their family’s way of life to stay as hidden as possible from these creatures, in hopes of survival until a better idea can be found.
Little is known about the creatures, aside from the fact that they are blind and mostly live off of sound. If they hear you, they will hunt you.
Lee and his family have smartly set-up their farmhouse to reduce their audible footprint. Sand paves the walking trails to give them a sense of where they are and keep their sound to an absolute minimum. Christmas lights are strung throughout the camp with color-cordinated bulbs to alert the family and notify them of an emergency.
They walk barefoot, play boardgames with weightless objects and soundproof their basement with pillows and newspaper to prevent the creatures from detecting them, but even that isn’t enough to ensure a safe life.
After all, they have children and can simply not avoid getting in the way of a creature looking for food without notice.
My detailed description of A Quiet Place reflects directly on the film that director and co-writer John Krasinski has so meticulously set-up. The concept is so perfect for a horror film, ripe in every way that counts for effective storytelling.
Krasinski and his co-writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck have created a minimalist survival horror film that absolutely looks and feels like a big budget production, despite only featuring 4 main characters and one or two set locations.
That’s because Krasinski and his team work with the less-is-more approach, focusing on the build-up and detail, which makes the reveals and action all the more important.
A Quiet Place benefits highly from heightened senses. Primarily the element of sound. Most of the film relies on very little or no sound, which amps up the tension and amplifies the actual use of sound, which is brilliantly drawn out and delivered for the maximum amount of scares.
This gives the film a unique presentation that encompasses all senses with rich detail and deliberate motives. A single stray nail getting caught up on a cloth sack essentially causes complete chaos, much like a battery-powered rocket nearly destroys the family.
Every single movement or moment is utterly important and Krasinski does a splendid job of capturing that increased sense of awareness. The film will play like gangbusters in a packed theater with the right crowd — a crowd that must be fully invested and on board with what Krasinski and company are trying to do.
Without spoiling much, I must comment on the creature design and handling. Whoever did the effects for this film must be commended, because they are absolutely frightful, yet not overdone. Those worried that A Quiet Place is too low-budget or “afraid” to reveal the terror are in for a treat, because on several occasions you get a good solid glimpse of the beasts in the night and they are well designed and effectively used.
The film doesn’t spell out the backstory, but it never robs the viewer a clue of what or why things are happening. I generally dislike movies that tease and tease with no real ending, yet A Quiet Place walks that balance of showing you enough, yet not giving you the whole briefing on just what they are or where they came from.
A Quiet Place is a contained film that focuses on its core characters and centralized location to a science. John Krasinski and his team have managed to cover all the bases and include enough important information and detail to make the film feel like something much more than a simple gimmick or jump scare. It’s well-planned, well-shot and an all-around solid piece of micro horror that feels both bold and unafraid to take risks and show you the payoff.
Last year’s It reminded studios that there is a strong need and desire for big-budget Hollywood horror and now this year’s A Quiet Place reinforces the notion that audiences continue to crave horror that’s not just about the scares or the gore, but also the story, the set-up and the execution.
John Krasinski has always been a good actor, but now he’s a great director that I very much look forward to watching from here on out.