With Get Out (2017) and now A Quiet Place, who knew comedians would make such great horror movie directors? A Quiet Place (2018), directed by John Krasinski, envisions a dystopian future when the world 2020 is overrun by silence. Even the slightest of sounds immediately attract predatory, extraterrestrial creatures who seek to kill. We follow a family who navigates this grim new world, adapting all ways of life including communication, household chores, family games, in an effort to remain as silent as they can.
It’s simply incredible how well the movie sets up tension and suspense, all without the use of sound. Oftentimes in horror films – or movies in general – sound plays an extremely important role. As seen in both Hush (2017) and A Quiet Place, the absence of sound can in fact be more terrifying because it adds to the unknown. Without sound and dialogue in this case, everything else becomes amplified. We get most of our cues from facial expressions, and this is where we have to commend the cast’s fantastic performances.Emily Blunt, as usual, is a tour de force. I’ve come to expect nothing less from her. However, John Krasinski’s performance really spotlights his gift as a dramatic actor. I’ll admit that I’m only familiar with his work in The Office, so his performance in A Quiet Place was a real eye-opener for me. Both actors gave nuanced performances of quiet strength, resilience, and grief. And we should not discount the child actors who held their own too.
Despite all its fantastical elements, A Quiet Place grounds itself in its core theme of family. We explore what it means to be a family through the lenses of our characters. With the absence of dialogue, the difficulty for the characters to find a common ground is elevated. Yet, with or without dialogue, the portrayal of kinship in A Quiet Place is a universal experience. Ask yourselves this: What constitutes a family? Some of us might see our children/parents every day, some of us might not. Some of us do not even speak to each other daily, just like this family. What, then, binds us together as a family unit? Is it through having a shared home? Through providing, through affection?
And that is the essence of A Quiet Place. Each character has a different idea of what kinship means. These are parents who would do anything for their children’s survival. After all, as Emily Blunt’s character says: “Who are we if we can’t protect them?” These are children who struggle to understand their parents, parents who are so wholly focussed on the safety and longevity of their children, they sometimes forget that their children are first and foremost, children. Ultimately, A Quiet Place effectively paints us a portrait of a family whom, despite all their different ways of expressing it, love and care for each other very much, and I reckon it hits pretty close to home for a lot of us. But let’s talk about the scares, since this is after all, a horror flick. For the most part, A Quiet Place is extremely successful in building and maintaining suspense throughout the film. Like I mentioned, subtlety can be even more frightening. The film employs quite a bit of dramatic irony, whereby we know things the characters don’t, and that effectively plays with our expectations of what will happen next. Also, in a movie theatre where everyone is expected to stay silent anyway, the film becomes a truly immersive experience because we are put in a similar position as the characters. The suspense never lets up, and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.
Some final thoughts about A Quiet Place (after all, this cannot be an adequate review of this film without touching base on the topic of representation): Representation in Hollywood is something that needs to happen more often, and the casting of deaf actress Millicent Simmonds as a deaf character makes me so happy in more ways than one.
Oftentimes we find disability representation in mainstream Hollywood to be caricaturised, made overtly sympathetic or villainised. In short, disability frequently becomes nothing but a mere trope. Incidental representation is thus extremely refreshing, and this is what A Quiet Place does so well. The film doesn’t attach sentimentality to deafness. It just simply is. The film normalises diversity, and this is what we should see more in the media.
A Quiet Place is a truly gripping movie, and I believe it is a modern horror film for the books. I give A Quiet Place an: A.
Also, guys, it feels so great to be back writing again. Fuck I forgot how much I missed writing film reviews with all the craziness that has been happening in my daily life. And I feel extra invigorated discussing A Quiet Place as my first film back from my hiatus, because damn, what an amazing film this was. And while I might be speaking to a void in my film reviews, I just have to put this out there: It’s great to be back doing what I love again.