I am sure by now you’ve read a few reviews or posts online dealing with A Quiet Place. The hype has been steady and strong ever since the release of the film. Having just experienced myself I want to throw my hat into the mix of buzz out there.
If you haven’t heard of it, A Quiet Place follows a family living on a farm after an alien invasion. That alone seems like fairly standard fare, but what this movie does best is silence. The aliens hunt using sound, so any and all survivors must be silent.
For this movie to work, it needed to do one thing right, and that is to show the audience exactly what the stakes are for sound early and make sure it hits hard. Without giving too much away, the movie succeeds at this perfectly. You see exactly how paranoid this family is of any noise, and you see what the consequences are for breaking the silence.
Because the movie does this right, it sets up the audience for a unique film-going experience. We are trained to like loud movies; this is not. A Quiet Place does have a good non-diegetic soundtrack, but you mostly experience the very soft sounds the family makes. They mainly speak in whispers (if at all), move as quietly as possible, and are a family that lives in almost complete silence. We the audience experience that silence with them. Much like the characters are trained to fear sound, we are too.
This makes for a perfectly tense experience. The silence in the movie is unsettling. It’s not what we are used to, it’s not what we are comfortable with. Yet any break in that silence instantly puts the viewer on edge and makes them fear what is to come. It is a tense experience, and it plays with expectations and comfort so well.
When the monsters do show up the audience is pulled along with the characters as they attempt to get themselves out of danger while still maintaining their silence. Action is used sparingly, and instead, the movie depends on being a tense and suspenseful experience. This also means when the action-oriented sequences do happen they pack a punch. The climax is hard-hitting in a number of ways and doesn’t allow you to relax. Plenty of the scares managed to get me, and I was unsettled for almost the entire experience. This is the type of horror experience I love.
Beyond that is a solid story about a family trying to survive. It is hard not to root for the family from start to finish. The characters do follow certain character types throughout the movie. Emily Blunt gives a stellar performance of a loving mother that is trying hard against fairly insurmountable odds. She is pregnant, she is dealing with pain, and she is trying to raise her children in impossible circumstances. John Krasinski is the tough father who has gotten a bit of a hard edge in this world but still passionately loves his family. He is more disconnected from the children because he’s put himself more in the role of protector while his wife remains more of a caregiver. Millicent Simmonds plays the oldest child who is deaf and struggles to be more useful. While Noah Jupe is the son who needs to step up but is still young enough that he is filled with fear. These aren’t exactly new characters, but they are well written and well done. There is a reason why these character types are repeated, and that is because they are relatable and likable. You really feel for the characters and the nearly impossible situation they find themselves in. You want them to survive, but you know you are watching a horror movie so the dread is there all the time. There is also enough splashes of difference so that you don’t feel like you could replace these four with any other four.
The acting is also impeccable. Given the small amount of dialogue that takes place a lot had to be nailed with facial expressions and other forms of acting. All the actors did a fantastic job and sold their performances. It only helps to make the characters more likable, and the emotional element of the movie hit that much harder. And this movie is emotional. I have discussed before the rarity of the horror genre to make me cry, but this movie hit me.
There are plot holes to be sure. The thing is the movie itself is so solid and entertaining that it doesn’t matter. You can pick at certain parts and elements, but I don’t feel the desire to do that. What the movie does right it does so well that I am perfectly fine shrugging my shoulders at the few things that stood out to me as being a bit of a problem.
So bottom-line I would highly recommend this movie to horror fans and even some that don’t care for the genre. I do think it’s scary, but it’s also just so well done and such an interesting experience that I find myself jumping right on board with people saying that this may well be the horror hit of this year. In the end, it might not be your all-time favorite from the genre, but it’s well acted, well directed, well written, and something that stands out because of what it does with the silence. Go see it, and if you can see it in the theater, it is well worth the experience.
What do you think? Have you seen A Quiet Place? Do you want to?