The Suspenseful Sounds Of Silence: A Review Of "A Quiet Place"
In only his third directorial foray, John Krasinski moves from family drama (The Hollars) to family suspense/horror, and delivers the goods with A Quiet Place. As in his previous directing projects, he also places himself front of camera; and this time, brings real life partner, Emily Blunt, along for the ride—and with Emily and a nuclear family the focus of the film’s story, that’s why I call it ‘family suspense/horror’.
The problem with the suspense/horror genre today is that it often seems like the films are just repeating themselves, leaning on shock value, or replaying the over-familiar tropes that carried the iconic films of the genre in the past. That’s precisely why the film Get Out was such a hit and critic’s darling last year—like a gust of fresh air, it played like a melange of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, 12 Years a Slave, and The Prisoner, giving us enough thrills and shocks while slyly dishing out social commentary about racism. Lucky for us that A Quiet Place aims for that same level of engagement and succeeds.
The premise is original enough to make the film take flight. In some dystopian future, we’re introduced to a nuclear family of parents, two sons and a daughter, as they descend upon a deserted village. What strikes us immediately is how they communicate via sign language, and so some of us may presume they’re mute; but only the daughter has a hearing aid attached to her ear. Their movements then betray how what they’re very careful about is not making any noise. As we discover at the end of this gripping prologue, it’s a world where flesh-eating beings, dependent on the sound made by their victims, rule.
While the film develops with elements of Jurassic Park and Alien coming into play to provide the tension and scares, there are enough deviations—such as the pregnancy, and the alienated daughter, that elevate this to a compelling human drama as well. It’s in blending these aspects that Krasinski shows his stuff, gifting us with something that while familiar, manages to surprise and feel fresh. I love how he also defers, and makes Blunt’s mother figure, the true heart of the film at the end. He eschews pat resolutions, defies expectations, and offers us a suspense/horror film that carries a lot of heart.
Sure, the notes of horror, of suspense, are expertly played; but he also gives us doses of family, of guilt, of expiation and human resilience. It’s by doing this that Krasinski takes the film to a level of its own. This is suspense/horror that’s brave enough to stand apart, and deserves an audience when it opens April 11th.
Photos from A Quiet Place Movie Official Website