By William Jepma
Several months ago the first trailer for the new horror film “A Quiet Place” surfaced online and in theaters with little to no press beforehand. Much like the movie itself, its pre-release build-up was soft, with trailers keeping much of the plot details vague.
There was a response though. As sparse as advertising was, the excitement growing around the film’s imminent release was tangible. Now that it has been released in theaters, it’s a relief to find that that excitement is far from unfounded.
“A Quiet Place” is a spectacular film. It carries its horror roots on its shoulder, and despite adhering to many of the genre’s more notable tropes, it nevertheless remains a tense and memorable experience.
Starring real-life married couple John Krasinski––who also directs the film––and Emily Blunt, “A Quiet Place” follows two parents and their children as they attempt to survive in a world ravaged by vicious creatures that hunt anything and everything that makes even the slightest sound.
The backstory of where these monsters came from is never even hinted at, but rather, the film wisely opts to simply drop its audience right into the world with little context or expectations.
This is one of the film’s greatest strengths. The visual storytelling is superb, and easily establishes the rules of the world in the film’s unforgettable opening sequence.
Universally the film opts to “show” rather than “tell,” and while this does lead to some plot threads feeling somewhat unresolved, it works in the film’s favor as it allows the focus to remain steadfast on the family themselves.
The cast is fantastic all around, and it is on their performances that “A Quiet Place” is able to succeed in the way it does. With very little spoken dialogue, the emotion and stakes of the plot hinge on the physical mannerisms and expressions of the cast, and they more than rise to meet that challenge.
Krasinski and Blunt both deliver powerful and nuanced performances as the desperate parents struggling to keep their family safe, and their easy, unspoken chemistry with each other makes their relationship feel immediately tangible.
However, it is the child actors who steal the show in the end. Both Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds shine here, with particular applause needed for Simmonds, whose role as the deaf Regan is truly remarkable.
Simmonds, who is deaf herself, gives Regan a tangible sense of vulnerability and bravery that are so compelling, so grounded in realistic adolescence, that she easily owns every scene she is in.
Special credit also needs to be given to Krasinski as well, who, on top of starring, also directs and co-writes the film. This is only his third film as director, but it is his best by far.
Krasinski capably directs his audience through tension, terror, and quiet moments of affection with ease and skill. With a compact running time of just 90-minutes, it is a testament to Krasinski’s direction that there is not a single wasted moment in the entire film.
There are moments where the film relies too heavily on its horror tropes though. While the jump scares and suspense are incredibly well done, it would have been refreshing to see it subvert some of these expectations instead of embracing them so completely.
Still, thanks to Krasinski’s thoughtful direction, some outstanding performances from the cast, and unforgettable moments of unrelenting suspense, “A Quiet Place” is an undeniable success for the horror movie genre. It is not an experience that can be easily forgotten, and stands as one of the year’s best films thus far.