A Quiet Place (2018) (90 minutes)
Directed by John Krasinski.
Written by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck and John Krasinski.
Starring Emily Blunt, John Krasinski and Millicent Simmonds.
As I sat down in my seat, a pint of Brooklyn lager in hand, I adjusted myself into a comfortable position. Looking up towards the images projected onto the screen in front of me, I patiently awaited for John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place to begin. The usual ambient noise of patrons entering the auditorium, the rustling of popcorn, the adjustment of seating, and the chatter of cinemagoers could be heard over the Dolby SR sound system as various theatrical movie trailers played. My friend nudged me and smiled in equal anticipation of the movie. Then, just as the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) certification appeared, silence…
John Krasinski, better known for his portrayal on The Office, has not previously tackled the horror genre; either as a director or as an actor. His directorial debut, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (2009), and his second feature The Hollars (2016) were both comedic dramas that displayed Krasinski’s talent both in front of the camera and behind it. But Krasinski’s transition into horror is something special.
The Abbot family – husband Lee (Krasinski), wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt – The Girl on the Train), sons Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward), and daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) – silently scavenge for supplies; communicating non-verbally though American sign language (ASL). Youngest son, Beau, picks up a toy space shuttle whilst scavenging an abandoned convenience store, but the toy is quickly confiscated by Lee, who proceeds to remove the batteries; putting the both back on the shelf carefully. “Too noisy”, Lee asserts in sign language.
As Lee leaves the store, Regan reaches for the toy space shuttle and hands it to her brother. They both smile, and Regan leaves the store. Beau looks at his new toy, then turns towards the batteries. Outside, the Abbot family, having packed their supplies, begin their long walk home. Beau follows closely behind, stuffing the space shuttle into his jacket. Nothing but the birds flying overhead can be heard. Each footstep that is taken is done with the utmost care. No one dares make a sound.
An artificial rumbling soon breaks that silence. Lee, horrified, turns back to see Beau holding the toy shuttle in the air, its internal speaker mimicking a shuttle launch; red and blue LEDs flashing brightly, even in the sunlight. Without hesitation Lee runs towards Beau, realising he is in danger. Regan, shocked in realisation that Beau replaced the batteries, can do nothing but stand there and watch. Lee catches a glimpse of something in the corner of his eye, and before he can reach Beau, the child is snatched away!
Throughout this scene the cinema was silent. Not one sound could be heard from surrounding members of the audience. I reached for my pint and took a gulp of beer, but was immediately self-conscious of the noise I was making. This unique experience continued throughout The Quiet Place‘s 90 minute running time. When a loud noise occurred on-screen, directly or in-directly caused by one of the Abbot family, tensions grew. And beer was spilt…
Co-written by Scott Beck, Bryan Woods and John Krasinski, A Quiet Place is as much about parenthood, as it is about the otherworldly creatures that hunt exclusively by sound. This aspect of Beck and Woods’ original story is what attracted Krasinski to the project, which was previously considered for development as the next film in the Cloverfield franchise; after 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016).
Most of the population has been lost – hunted down – but the Abbot family have managed to survive thus far. They have an advantage… Lee and Evelyn’s daughter Regan is deaf, so American sign language is already a significant part of their lives. They can communicate with each other without sound.
Both Millicent Simmonds, who portrays Regan and is hearing-impaired herself, and Noah Jupe as Marcus, are convincing as two young teenagers thrust into this post-apocalyptic world. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, as Lee and Evelyn respectively, notice their survivalist instincts but still fear for their children, especially after losing their youngest, Beau; an event Regan blames herself for throughout the film. “Who are we if we can’t protect them?” And life in their quiet place is not without its own disadvantages. Evelyn is pregnant, which leads to one of the most tense scenes in the entire movie.
A Quiet Place is a quiet movie by design. Therefore it should be viewed in a quiet setting, in order to truly appreciate the mesmerising sound design; complemented by an equally mesmerising score by Marco Beltrami. There is also numerous questions that John Krasinski tackles throughout A Quiet Place: What defines a family? Do we fear the vulnerability of children? Should parents be extra protective of their children? Each one will leave you debating with your loved ones long after leaving the auditorium.