‘A Quiet Place’ is a horror film with a neat premise and better actors than the genre normally gets.
The premise allows it to play with technique and the performances engage the audience emotionally better than the script deserves.
The film is not perfect; if you think about it too much, plenty of plot holes pop up and certain things play out fairly predictably.
Yet it should attract and scare those who don’t usually go for horror and for those that do, it should offer something new via the monsters that feature.
Establishing early that this is a film that lives in the moment, with no set-up we open in a run- down grocery store, indicative of a post-apocalyptic world, where a group shuffle through looking for supplies.
They are a family: a father (John Krasinski) and a mother (Emily Blunt) with three children who haven’t quite honed their survival skills yet. Which they need to, because this is a bleak world where monsters roam and attack seemingly out of nowhere if you make a decisively audible sound.
Human nature remains what it is though and this movie is most compelling when it is a family drama. The oldest child (Millicent Simmonds) is deaf and a teenager. This sets up two great ideas.
The first being a young girl who can’t hear, but she is prey to creatures that can hear but not see her. The second is how do you express and work through your emotions as a teenager with your parents in a world where you can’t make a sound for fear of death.
Casting Millicent Simmonds, a real-life deaf actress, in the part, I believe helps this thread because these are challenges she might have insight into regardless of the film’s situation.
The strongest metaphor of the movie is the idea of being a good parent. How do you protect, but also raise your children to be well-rounded individuals who can take care of themselves? A theme that may have been close to the heart of co-writer/ director John Krasinski and star Emily Blunt who as a real-life couple have started their own family in recent years.
With only the family of five as characters in the story, it’s easy to make some calculated guesses about who will survive and who won’t based off ongoing themes that might lead to some predictability.
The cast also have to work harder to establish their characters with limited dialogue (sign language or otherwise) and sometimes struggle to be more than a viewpoint or a personality trait.
Yet Blunt and Krasinski are stars at this point, holding your attention on screen with gestures and facial expressions alone. Millicent Simmonds proves a first-rate actress, effortlessly giving a real and moving performance.
There is a lot to like about this film; the clever sound design, a great sense of mood and location, a few jump scares, and characters in a horror who you care about and the choices they make.
Krasinski paces the story well and evokes moods with ease, showing that he has a future as a director if he wants it. Fans of the genre might wish it was scarier, newcomers might wish there was a broader story to it, but it remains an engaging tale built around a cool premise.
There will be scarier horror films this year, but also certainly lazier and dumber ones too; simply put this is one of the good ones.