I’m excited to see which comedian takes up directing a horror/thriller film next, because it’s worked out so far for Jordan Peele and John Krasinski…
“A Quiet Place” stars John Krasinski and his real-life wife Emily Blunt as parents who must quietly survive in a world where aliens that hunt off sound have invaded. Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe star as the couple’s children as Krasinski directs.
I feel this film will inevitably be compared to “Get Out” for numerous reasons, surely the biggest one being what I led off with, that Krasinski is best known for his comedy in “The Office” yet here he is helming an indie horror film. Like I said in my “Get Out” review, comedians always have dark sides: it’s what led Michael Keaton to kill it as Batman, Robin Williams to nail numerous dramatic roles and Steve Carell to earn an Oscar nomination for “Foxcatcher,” not to mentioned Peele’s success in 2017 with “Get Out.” Krasinski has stated that his time on “The Office” (which is the greatest show ever made, just a friendly PSA) helped him direct this film, that much like “it is not your job to deliver a line funny, just to deliver the line” he focused simply on making this a film about family and survival, not attempting to make a horror film. And a lot like “Get Out” this film preys on what we may take as an everyday interaction or situation and suddenly flips it as uncomfortable and unobtainable, building some great tension along the way.
Back in 2016 there was a film called “Lights Out” which had a great premise but poor execution. In it, there is a monster that can only survive in the dark; if you shine a light on it then it disappears. It was smart because we all as humans have a natural fear of the dark and “A Quiet Place” feeds off the fact that humans make sound and have an urge to communicate, so what would happen if that was suddenly taken away?
One of the children in the film is hearing-impaired (played by Millicent Simmonds, who is deaf in real life) and the film does a good job of putting us in her shoes. Even though the other characters are trying their best not to make noise, our world still has so much ambient sound in it like the hum of a radiator or the soft whoosh of a quick breeze. Whenever the camera is focused on her, all sound cuts out which creates true terror at points when you just want to shout at her to notice something on screen but can’t. Not only because she cannot hear you but also because the rules the film has established for its universe.
Emily Blunt, Krasinski and Jupe are all solid, each given a scene or two to truly shine. I want to remain as vague as possible regarding how and when they have their moments (and about the plot in general) but they all step it up and give arguably career-best performances (seeing as Jupe’s previous best was in the hysterically awful “Suburbicon” take that for what it’s worth).
The creature design is a bit of mixed bag, with some shots looking haunting and others just silly. There may be some unanswered questions about the creatures once the credits roll and it’ll be met with varied feelings from audiences.
The film’s best moments are when the family is in danger and there are some true heart-pounding sequences. There aren’t too many moments that allow you to fully exhale or catch your breath but that is smart because it puts you in the shoes of the characters, like with Simmonds. There are points that Krasinksi the director could have used a bit of touching up, whether it be falling into genre tropes like the bloody hand slamming up against the window for a jump scare or mishandling how a scene should have been conducted using sound design, but these missteps are rare.
“A Quiet Place” will surely make some noise on social media and at the box office because it isn’t too often that Hollywood puts out an original film (in horror no less) that resonates with you after you’ve left the theater. Typing this review I really took note of how much sound the keys make and when I sneezed how hard it would be to try and stifle the noise, and that shows that Krasinski tapped into something that connects each and every one of us and attacked it, and that’s true horror.
Critic’s Grade: B+
2 thoughts on “‘A Quiet Place’ is a Thrilling Little Horror Film”
Downright terrifying. Nice review.