Director: John Krasinski
Writers: Bryan Woods (screenplay by), Scott Beck (screenplay by)
Stars: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds
I’ve mentioned countless times before that I don’t scare easy. The modern day horror films over reliance on jump scares often leaves me tutting, rather than quivering like a little girl. I’ve always preferred the more psychological, thriller centric films of that genre and that’s exactly what John Krasinski has produced with ‘A Quiet Place’. It does have jump scares in there, but this film is more than just scares, it goes deeper than that.
The actual premise of the film is rather simple. It’s set in the near future of 2020, in a post-apocalyptic enviroment where humanity has been pretty much wiped out in a matter of three months. The cause of this near extinction are multi-limbed, alien creatures dubbed ‘black angels’. These fast moving carnivorous monsters have hypersensitive hearing and despite being blind, are very difficult to take down.
The film solely focuses on the Abbot family, struggling to survive in the midst of the terrifying, lurking creatures. We have Lee (John Krasinski), the father; Evelyn (Emily Blunt), the mother; Regan (Millicent Simmonds), the daughter; Marcus (Noah Jupe), the oldest son and finally Beau (Cade Woodward), the youngest son. They’re scavenging for food and medicine in a small town store when the film opens and the fundamentals of this new world are fleshed out early on with communication limited to sign language and the family tiptoeing around in fear.
There’s some tense moments and then as the family make their way out of the store and town Krasinski drops a nuclear bomb to hammer home just why everyone is staying deathly silent. Young Beau has a toy rocket taken off him by his father in the store, before his sister hands him it back, not aware of the tragedy that’s about to unfold. The boy accidentally activates it shortly afterwards, in the middle of a woodland setting, the noise startling me in the process and then he’s taken out by a grotesque shape that storms out from the woods at a blistering pace.
Not only does this moment highlight their peril and the alien enemy, but it ramps up the tension which was already palpable in the opening shots even further. Before I go any further, I’m going to get into the silence. I have never experienced quietness in a cinema like this in all my years of going. If you’re going to see this film then do yourself a favour and opt out of the snacks at the door, unless you want to turn the theatre into an unintentional ASMR experience. You will hear the drink going down someone’s throat, believe me.
Now, I don’t want to give the entire plot away because this film should be enjoyed firsthand. That’s a massive part of this films experience in itself. But nonetheless there’s a year long time jump and the Abbotts now sans Beau are living out of a farm. The rest of the film pretty much takes place in this location with a wheat field (soon to be full of monsters), a grain silo, a basement stairway with an uprooted nail and nearby woods providing plenty of scope and opportunity for tense, terrifying and agonising moments.
Indeed, Evelyn stands on the nail in one cringe inducing moment on the basement stairs, creating a racket in attempts to free herself and starting the chain reaction of events that lead to the films riveting finale. The final half an hour of this film is incredible incidentally. I enjoyed the entirety of ‘A Quiet Place’, be it the more deliberate, slower pacing of the opening forty odd minutes of world building and creating emotional bonds with the family, to the more frantic showdown with the extraterrestrials that defined the second half.
I mentioned the emotional bonds formed and this is another real strength of this film. I genuinely cared for these characters come the end, which is largely thanks in part to the introspective, intimate style of storytelling on show.
There’s several moments that aid in this process; Lee and Evelyn trying their best to safeguard and provide a relatively normal life for their family, whilst clearly still grieving for their son; the tender moments Lee and Evelyn share together; the waterfall scene between Marcus and his father, during which they could talk freely for the first time and finally the majority of Regan’s arc. Her story was the most interesting for me, the way she had to handle being deaf in a world with those creatures waiting to pounce, the guilt of being involved in her brothers death and fighting against mollycoddling to become more independent.
Emily Blunt is outstanding as Evelyn. I’ve not seen this lady in a bad film, I think she’s a fantastic actor and she’s brings an emotional grounding to the chaotic action of the final thirty minutes. John Krasinski was amazing too. He directed, co-wrote and starred in the film and hats off to him because he was excellent. He’s obviously married to Blunt in real life so it’s not surprising that they have great chemistry. He has a moment late in the film which was heart-rending. Young Millicent Simmonds was the true standout however. Much of the film was seen through her perspective and in the end she proved to be pivotal in a rather ingenious way.
One aspect of ‘A Quiet Place’ I’ve failed to touch upon yet is the most important one in the entire film. The pregnancy of Evelyn and the decision to bring a new baby into such a dangerous, hostile world. It’s a bewildering decision at first but you quickly realise that this is the primary theme the film is exploring. Sure it explores side issues like grief and dealing with utterly horrific situations, but primarily it’s about family bonds, hope and survival. The arrival of Evelyn’s newborn baby represents all of this in a microcosm. I.e. the indomitable spirit of humanity to fight on and survive no matter the odds.
If I was to have one small criticism then it would be the score which I felt they relied on just a little too much to emphasise the scares or proximity of a threat. It was offensively bad however.
I absolutely loved this film. Its one of the best horrors I’ve seen in years which is remarkable when you consider its relatively small budget of $17m. It took a well trodden monster horror premise and a simple concept with the silence and expanded it into something truly impressive. It forced the actors to convey their emotions through body language and facial expressions which was aided by some brilliant close up shots and I just found it to be a totally unique cinematic experience. The CGI stood up, I cared about the characters, the performances were outstanding, it was the perfect length and the story was riveting.
Highly recommended viewing for me.