When I sat down to watch the much-anticipated horror film, A Quiet Place, I wasn’t quite sure what I was in for. The theater was full that night and I could hear the typical murmurs, shuffling and rustling of candy wrappers I’d come to expect during the previews. But once the film started, it didn’t take long before the noise stopped.
A Quiet Place is directed by John Krasinski (yes, that John Krasinski) who is best known for his role as straight man Jim Halpert in The Office (U.S. version). He also plays the dad in the film, along with his real-life wife Emily Blunt playing his spouse. There is no sound in the beginning, not even a hint of soundtrack. We see characters moving quietly through a ransacked and long-abandoned convenience store, presumably gathering supplies in some kind of post-apocalyptic world. Their body language and actions point to people who are capable, who have learned to live and what to fear.
In this world, no one closes their doors. Knocking for permission to enter would mean death. Meals consist of fish and soft, raw veggies – less noise in the kitchen. Music is only enjoyed through earbuds and lights are a means of communication. And how do they speak to each other day to day? That’s easy. Sign language. Whatever it takes to keep the monsters away.
In an already nerve-wracking world, tragedy strikes the family, leaving Krasinski ‘s character (we never learn any of their names) obsessing more so over discovering the creature’s weakness. We learn, very creatively I might add, that the monsters are insect-like with bullet proof exteriors. On the inside of their “shells” they are more vulnerable. They are seemingly indestructible with their weapon – an intense sense of hearing. The slightest sound an octave or pitch above its surroundings, and these guys swoop in at mach speed to strike. We don’t know if they feed off of humans, but we’re led to believe that this is one whopping infestation, with humans standing in their way.
I do have some nagging thoughts about the plot, but overall it is a solid piece of work. The characters are believable as a family as we experience their pain, their anxiety and their fears. Emily Blunt is phenomenal as she portrays not only the psychological pain of her new life, but brutal and languishing physical pain as well. While there are rare moments of dialogue, language in this film is used with the utmost care. When they speak, we fear for them. When someone screams, we, as the audience, tense up in our seats, holding our breath. The sound in the film, when stripped of all else and used as a vital tool in story-telling, tug directly at our most primal emotions.
These days, fans of horror are coming to the theater with higher expectations and films like A Quiet Place are continuously raising the bar. Frankly, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. It is an experiment in film with a highly enjoyable outcome. The Paranormal Activity series attempted a form of tension horror, however, unlike their marketable jump scares, A Quiet Place is a slow tease, building and unrelenting. It is one of those films I’ll watch again in the future, alone at home with the lights low and the volume raised, even though I know it will be terrifyingly quiet… at least for awhile.
– By Christina Persaud