Jim from The Office is all grown up, and apparently he had way much more potential than just selling paper, because Krasinski’s latest project is by far his most impressive, and it has forever changed my opinion on what he can do as an entertainer. In all seriousness, I have to mention just how surprised I was to find out that John Krasinski not only co-wrote the sensational A Quiet Place, but that he also directed it. It was clear from the eerie promos that he starred in it with his wife Emily Blunt, but it wasn’t until the credits rolled on my screening did I realize that he was one of the main creative forces behind every aspect of one of 2018’s most surprising and refreshing films.
Yes, A Quiet Place is easily deserving of its early high praise, because it is one of those movies that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. What’s even more impressive, is that its narrative keeps your butthole puckered for 90-minutes straight as you try and fail to anticipate each and every scare, yet it hardly features more than a few lines of spoken dialogue. This movie manages to keep your heart rate elevated mostly with its use of sound and through the actions of its characters. In fact, if you have an AMC Prime theater, or any theater that supports Dolby Atmos, you have to watch this film at that theater due to how important the sound design is in it. You can thank me later, but I can’t stress the importance of sound in this movie based on how critical it is to the plot.
Sound plays such a major role in this movie because of how key it is in the treatment of its alien/monsters, which are blind and can only track sound, which they’ll attack viciously when they hear anything louder than a whisper. This in turn has led to a post-apocalyptic society in which the only way humans can survive is by living in nearly complete silence. It’s for this reason why A Quiet Place is mostly told through the physical actions of the characters, as well as the few bits of sound you hear in a world that is trying to remain unheard.
This plot device really adds to the drama, because anytime you think one of the main characters is going to make a loud sound and alert the aliens/monsters, you start to grit your teeth and hope for the best, all while wanting to hide your eyes because you’re expecting the worst. Your ears start to hinge on any sound that you think the creatures will hear, so again, I was amazed at how emotionally connected this film can make you feel to it, even though there is hardly any dialogue or explanations of what exactly is going on.
You only learn about the predicament that John Krasinski and Emily Blunt’s characters and family are in by reading scraps of newspapers his character Lee has hanging in the farmhouse. A Quiet Place doesn’t spoon feed you its narrative at all, which is another reason why it’s so masterful. You have to piece clues together that are presented to you, but they’re not so cryptic that you’ll be confused as to what preceded the events of the movie, and why this family is living the way they do. It just all makes sense thanks to the cleverly placed clues and camera pans that slowly and smartly reveal more of what humans have been dealing with in this sci-fi thriller (sure it has horror aspects, but it’s more Alien than Saw).
I just really appreciated that the focus was on the Abbott family, and their survival, over trying to explain why the alien/monsters were on Earth, and why they were systematically killing everything that made sound. In fact, that’s why I keep referring to the blind, armored, and basically invincible creatures as either being aliens or monsters, because it’s never explained in that level of detail, and nor does it need to be. The clues you’re given about them are just enough to fill you in on why Lee and his family live like mutes, as well as why these creatures have been able to topple the world with just their genetic assets.
A Quiet Place also stands out as being more than just a horror film/sci-fi thriller, or jump scare laden gimmick, thanks to its focus on the dynamics of a family with young kids trying to survive in a world where even the slightest sound can get everyone brutally eviscerated. Imagine trying to keep your three or four year old totally silent, so he or she doesn’t get you all killed or themselves. Imagine trying to keep two middle school age kids from making too much noise while holed up in a farm house with only items in it that don’t make noise. If you’re a parent you will empathize with both John and Emily’s characters, because you’ll realize just how hard their lives must be to try and keep their little family safe.
I would love to go on about the plot, because it is full of tension, drama, sadness, and by the end it also offers up pure jubilation, but this is a movie that needs to be seen with no real knowledge of the plot, outside of what has been shown in trailers. It’s a roller coaster ride to say the least, and easily one of this year’s best films to-date, and it’s definitely better when you know nothing about the overarching plot. For a horror/sci-fi thriller it’s actually full of more heart and emotions than anyone would expect too, so if you have a heart and soul it will get you feeling funny by the time it ends (Dads, there’s a great chance you’ll even shed a tear).
This movie needs to be seen, and it needs to be seen in a movie theater, so I urge you to get a screening booked during its opening week, because it is fun to watch with a full theater. The reliance of sound as a plot device provides for some magical, yet frighteningly tense moments, and you will not stop thinking about what you just witnessed for many hours after leaving your screening. It’s just one of those movies that feels very fresh and unique, and I can only hope that its ending may lead to a potential sequel, because I’d love to see where things could go based on the excellent narrative presented in Krasinski’s first masterpiece.
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