Directed by John Krasinski
“A Quiet Place” is the boldest work of American actor-turned-director John Krasinski, who abandons the redundancy of minor comedy dramas such as “The Hollars” and “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” to embark on a post-apocalyptic horror thriller that will make you breathless throughout.
That’s because the story, written with visionary élan by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, tells us about a family - father (John Krasinski), mother (Emily Blunt), son (Noah Jupe), and deaf daughter (Millicent Simmonds) - that has to live noiseless in the countryside to avoid extermination by alien creatures with a hypersensitive auditory ability. Years before, one of those horrifying monsters, which can switch from idle to attack mode in seconds, had killed the couple’s younger son, a situation that not only created much grief in the family but also an obstinate guilt in his conscious sister. However, the couple still dances with headphones at the sound of Neil Young’s breezy songs because they were blessed with a new pregnancy. Although happiness and hope are installed in the house, the situation has much to think about and requires planning not to let the baby put everyone in danger when crying. A bunker, a small wooden box, and an oxygen mask are the key elements of their strategy. Moreover, mom has to be silent during labor, which is another motive to amplify anxiety.
Because the film is 99% wordless, the level of exigency required from the actors is mostly related to conveying everything via actions and expression. The characters use gestural language to communicate, only breaking this rule when behind a waterfall, where the noise is natural and they can remain undetected.
I see this film as a game of the senses, a conviction bolstered by the fact that the creatures are blind and the little girl is deaf. Her father insists she has to wear her an aiding ear, even broken. Who knows when it may start working again?
An old man who prepares to commit suicide after his wife’s execution is the only human to be found. Ironically, he just has to scream and… voilà! Despite these happenings, we are not told about what happened before or where the creatures came from. That vagueness, together with the silences and the power of the images, takes the horror to another level, simply because you’re dealing with the unknown.
In a couple of scenes, I wanted to start screaming out loud, like if I would alleviate the characters’ oppressive pain. Yet, that would have spoiled the film. Silence is imperative if you want to completely absorb the mood, even when Marco Beltrami’s ominous score is present to inflict further intimidation.
Regardless some minor quibbles here and there, “A Quiet Place” is original, atmospheric, tragic, and thrilling.