Truth is, nobody’s keeping quiet about A Quiet Place.
In the footsteps of Get Out and It, A Quiet Place brings the horror genre closer to a mainstream audience. Perhaps it is the film’s exploration of family, a very human-focused theme, which makes it heartfelt and deeply poignant amid its thriller-esque elements. Director John Krasinski said, “My job is to tell the story about this family, and if you care about this family, then you’ll laugh with them, cry with them, and be scared with them.”
On April 6th, the film debuted in the U.S. At 2 PM, Stephen King tweeted, “A QUIET PLACE is an extraordinary piece of work. Terrific acting, but the main thing is the SILENCE, and how it makes the camera's eye open wide in a way few movies manage.” At this point, you probably don’t need to finish reading this review. You’ve got it: the king of suspense has approved Krasinski’s sci-fi thriller debut.
A Quiet Place centers on a family isolated from social interaction. They live in a world plagued by blind, alien-like creatures that can hunt by sound using their extremely sensitive ears. The family tries to survive in this post-apocalyptic world, preparing for the arrival of a newborn baby by creating a soundproof room and a light-bulb system to communicate while collecting necessities from abandoned buildings.
The movie embodies storytelling, communication, and suspense at its core. When the camera focuses on the house and its light bulbs, we feel time pause, strengthening the film’s emphasis on the family and their surroundings; we feel worried and ask for more. The consistency of A Quiet Place’s eerie mood adds to its well-executed and varied scenes, all of which are built on suspense and fear. Though it circulates between just a few settings, the movie never feels slow or boring. New dangers and situations requiring resolution are constantly posed. This element works significantly well in the movie because it truthfully portrays the instinctive, frightened mentality that post-apocalyptic humans would possess.
When explaining their writing process, screenwriters Bryan Woods and Scott Beck explained, “Writing a silent movie isn’t easy. You can’t use dialogue as a crutch.” While a lot of movies are guided or even defined by their dialogue, A Quiet Place is driven by its cinematic elements and the producers’ clever adaptations. The film is built on mood, suspense, and humanity. The story is further enhanced through the use of ASL instead of sound, as viewers are forced to keep their eyes on the screen to understand the characters’ facial expressions.
The use of a deaf child actress in the film is a signal of the industry’s efforts to diversify its stars. Although children actors and actresses have been in the limelight recently (see: Stranger Things, Stephen King’s It, and Sean Baker’s The Florida Project), this film goes further. The inclusion of a real deaf actress makes A Quiet Place authentic: Milliecent Simmonds brings onto the screen the personality and nature of someone who truly experiences life deaf. Subsequent to The Shape of Water’s groundbreaking success, marginalized artists continue to be recognized. Simmonds said in a recent interview, “I think it’s important in the deaf community to advocate for and be a representative for this story. A story that might inspire directors and other screenwriters to include more deaf talent and be more creative in the way you use deaf talent.”
It was quite a bold move for Krasinski to both direct and act in the film, considering his history as the funny and charming Jim in The Office. In his performance as the father, we see courage and love amidst fear and doubt, whereas in Blunt’s performance as the mother, we feel a sense of uneasiness disguised by her effort to remain strong for her family. There are complex interpersonal dynamics within the simple plot, and we get to learn about the family, navigating their fears as though they’re our own. It was hard to not feel like you were there with the family. Sitting in the theatre, you feel like you’ve lost something when they lose something; you feel hurt when pain is inflicted on them. When the credits roll, you want to call up your mom or dad or sister and tell them about it—you want to tell them you really love them.
Ting Ting Chen