Blunt force trauma – The tension is monstrous in A Quiet Place

Director John Krasinsky puts on masterclass in thrilling audiences with A Quiet Place. 

Evelyn Abbot with her hand covering her mouth with her husband holding a flashlight and two children in the background

As a parent, if you were to tell me we were going to “a quiet place” I would weep tears of joy about going on a trip to a nirvana, free from children, where I could take a shit in peace without someone knocking on the door and screaming “daadddiiieeeeee!!!” the entire time.

As a moviegoer though, A Quiet Place means you’re in for possibly the the best and most thrilling creature feature we’ve seen in recent times.

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A Quiet Place takes the best parts of classics like Alien, Pitch Black and Signs and delivers something new and fresh that will stay with audiences for a long time to come.

That’s largely thanks to an incredible screenplay from writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, and partly thanks to Paramount Studios for making this a standalone film as opposed to part of the Cloverfield franchise, which is what the original plan for this movie was. After the recent debacle that was God Particle morphing into the Cloverfield Paradox, I’m glad they decided to move away from that, because it is certainly strong enough to stand on its own.

Who’s in it?

Director John Krasinski, who you might recognise as Jim Halpert in the U.S. version of The Office, plays Lee Abbott along side his real life wife, the fabulous Emily Blunt who plays Lee’s wife Evelyn. They’re joined by an amazing group of actors who play their kids. Noah Jupe as son Marcus, Cade Woodward is little brother Beau and Millicent Simmonds as big sister Regan, who also happens to be deaf.

What’s it about?

The story sets the stage for some incredible tension, and that tension is amplified by the direction and overall presentation of the film. The premise is that these creatures are roaming the countryside and have settled in at the top of the food chain by preying on and successfully wiping out a massive number of humans. The kicker is, they hunt by sound, so in order to survive you need to be very, very quiet.

Here we meet the Abbot family, who are struggling to survive against these vicious creatures and are bunkered down on their farm. They’ve gone to great lengths to set up an elaborate infrastructure around their property to ensure they can live a relatively silent existence until someone figures out a way to beat these monsters.

What makes it special?

It’s quite an experience to be sitting in a packed cinema with an audience too scared to munch on their popcorn or slurp their cola during some of the quieter moments, and there’s a lot of them. In fact, the first draft of the screenplay only had one line of dialogue, they did flesh it out more for the final version but it still is quite minimal.

Because of that I’d have to say, that the heroes are behind the scenes in this film in sound editors Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van Der Ryn. They really have done something special with this movie. I think there’s a real art to the way they’ve crafted this film around the sound.

Millicent Simmonds is deaf in real life and in the film her character has a cochlear implant. The way they have designed the sound to transition from the broader perspective of the other characters into her world is something that makes this movie really special. It’s also cool to see them cast someone with a disability as opposed to simply having any old actor drop into the part.

Noise means death in this world but it felt to me like the creatures actually took a back seat to the sound as far as scary went. There’s all these soft sounds like gentle footsteps on sand, wind blowing through the trees and paper rustling that are contrasted with much louder things like breaking glass and offensive electronic sounds from kids toys. And because everything is so delicate, when those bigger sounding moments happen, it is terrifying!

The verdict

The other thing that makes this film really special are the performances. The chemistry between the cast makes them totally convincing as a family. Because the dialogue is minimal they really do stretch their talents in those key moments too. A lot of their performance lies in their eyes and facial expressions.

Krasinski is great as the dad and Millicent Simmonds is incredible in the way she pours real emotion into her character. The standout performer for me though is Emily Blunt. She is simply amazing. You probably picked up from the trailers that her character Evelyn is pregnant, and there’s a series of events she goes through in the middle act of the film that will have you almost under your seat as opposed to on the edge of it.

But no spoilers here! This is the easily the best film I’ve seen so far this year.

I loved it from start to finish, all the parts that go into making this one are perfect. From the direction, casting, cinematography, creature design, the music by Marco Beltrami and most importantly, the phenomenal attention to detail in the sound. I’ll give you a tip though, don’t take any noisy food into the theatre for this one.


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