by Matt Clemens
Synopsis: Set in a post-apocalyptic world where the faintest whisper could prove fatal, the Abbott family, Lee and Evelyn (real-life couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt), their two sons (Noah Jupe and Cade Woodward) and hearing-impaired daughter (Millicent Simmonds) must live life in complete silence in order to stay alive.
It’s barely two minutes into A Quiet Place and I’m already on edge, my hand having unconsciously traversed the dividing armrest between me and my girlfriend to squeeze hers with the crushing force of a trash compactor.
What’s he holding? I say to my girlfriend telepathically, jerking my head nervously towards the little boy on the screen who has his back to us.
The camera lingers on him for what seems like an eternity. We see the faces of his on-screen parents (Director/ Lead Actor John Krasinski and Emily Blunt) staring down at their boy in abject terror. My brain goes into overdrive, conjuring up suggestions of what he might be holding – a severed head, a detached limb, a gangrenous appendage?
The camera rolls around at an excruciatingly slow pace until it finally reveals the thing he’s clutching: a toy rocket. A harmless little toy rocket, is that it? I think.
Wrong! Nothing in A Quiet Place is harmless, a ruthless characteristic that makes this American Horror picture such a relentless and rivetingly tense experience.
Like any decent horror movie, A Quiet Place is not an enjoyable ride, oftentimes feeling like hard work. This ultimately proves an effective tactic in helping the audience empathise with the characters as you watch them come to terms with their own sense of fear and overcome it to live relatively normal and mundane lives in impossible circumstances.
As for the supernatural creatures and events, one of the best things this film achieves is in keeping things mysterious. The fact that we only learn snippets of information about the creatures from newspaper headlines and notes on a whiteboard only helps add to the feeling of nerve shredding tension, and builds a sense of history only twenty minutes in. There are also some absolute master strokes in suspension, but it would be a crime against filmmaking to give anything away. Let’s just say there are a few bits that will bring new meaning to the phrase “nail biter”.
The only possible negative to the whole affair (and what detracts from a perfect score) is the requirement to suspend disbelief quite so enormously and accept that a couple that have gone to such great lengths to protect their children would be crazy or stupid enough to have a baby in this type of predicament. The less said and thought about that the better.
This aside, with some fantastic moments of suspense and genuine terror that will keep you on the edge of your seat for the whole 90 minutes, A Quiet Place is an exceptional horror movie and one of the most original and intelligent creature features to come out in the last few decades. And like Jordan Peele did last year, John Krasinski shows that comedians sure know how to make a decent horror movie. Let’s hope he makes another one soon.
Dir: John Krasinski
Screamplay: John Krasinski, Scott Beck, Bryan Woods
Cast: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward
Prd: Michael Bay, Brad Fuller, Andrew Fuller
DOP: Charlotte Bruus Christensen
Music: Marco Beltrami
Runtime: 90 mins
A Quiet Place is in cinemas now.