A Quiet Place is the debut film of director John Krasinski, who also wrote, produced, and starred in it. This horror film is a terrific juxtaposition from his previous acting in The Office. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where blind creatures prey on humanity using sound, the premise is both disturbing and original. The heroes are the Abbott family, who have managed to survive primarily due to their knowledge of sign-language. The movie is just the right balance of suspense, thriller, horror, and just a dab of science fiction.
Spoilers included below.
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing this film in theatres. I typically avoid viewing horror films in public, because I am prone to making exclamations that are frowned upon in civilised company. But A Quiet Place was the perfect level of ‘scary’; it was well-written, and it was an experience, which will be discussed later on.
Establishing the World & Set Design
The opening sequence was beautifully done: within the first shot, the necessity of silence was established, and the audience (myself included) was sufficiently uneasy by the vision of a child’s feet on tip-toe, creeping around an abandoned store. The climax of the prologue was shocking and heartbreaking, efficiently setting up the story and explaining the motivation of our characters’ actions.
The time jump that followed was a wise choice. It was much more interesting to see a family that had survived on adaptation and innovation rather than luck. We also saw how traumatic and exhausting it was to live life in this manner.
There was an incredible amount of thought that went into the set design for this film. The use of sand to create soundless walkways, paint to mark creak-less planks inside the house, and paper machè walls, to name a few. An entire farm was designed to be soundless; with the use of lights and fire as means of communication. The children even played Monopoly using cloth pieces so as not to make noise.
Something that became painfully apparent as the film went on was that this movie was not just a film–it was an experience. There was limited soundtrack and nearly no dialogue throughout the film, which meant the theatre was quieter than usual. As an audience member, you become conscious of all the noise you make, from chomping on popcorn to opening a bag of candy. It really heightened the setting of the film and made it a memorable experience.
Although the film was quiet, the sound design was beautifully done. The noises the creatures made were terrifying and unique–reminiscent of a combination of a dinosaur and a Xenomorph. The soundtrack was halting, but accentuated the soundless atmosphere. Sound was a blatant motif–a character made noise, and something bad happened. (R.I.P. racoon.)
The Use of Sign Language
Hats off to Krasinsky for using sign language in this film. This is something that is sadly rarely seen in films, especially as the primary form of communication within the story. A deaf actress was cast to play Regan Abbot–Millicent Simmonds portrays Krasinki’s on-screen daughter, who played a vital role in the family’s survival.The cast learned American Sign Language for every line in the script, and they also learned it in order to communicate with Regan. In the film, the family had been communicating via sign-language for years. This was accurately portrayed in the manner in which the characters sign–it wasn’t rigid and academic, but a bit sloppy and more natural.
There were numerous plot holes that I am going to have way too much fun pointing out, but, the film was so well-done that I happily overlooked them. In no particular order:
- In a world infested with monsters, no good parent would leave their child to walk at the back of the group. (And I would argue that Lee and Evelyn were good parents.)
- If you had experienced the most traumatic night of your life, including giving birth with a monster right down the hall, and just seen your husband torn to shreds, leaving you as the only person to raise a newborn baby and two other children, the last thing you are going to do is smile. (Although I appreciate the badass-female moment with Emily Blunt there at the end.)
- Why didn’t the monster sink into the grain silo? The creature wasn’t exactly ‘flat’, which is the only way it could have stayed afloat. I was desperately hoping we would finally be rid of one, but it somehow managed to run across the corn that Marcus Abbott had just sank into.
- Why, oh why, did the Abbotts not take steps to avoid pregnancy? A screaming baby is the last thing you need when the world is plagued by monsters who hunt by sound.
- How did the family sleep? None of the Abbotts would have been able to snore, otherwise they would have attracted the creatures. And on that note, how did Regan survive, when she was unable to tell if she was making noise?
- The monsters seemed to pick-and-choose when they could hear extremely well. There were several times, especially when Emily Blunt’s character, Evelyn, was in labor, that her breathing alone should have given her away.
- Where did the creatures come from? One would assume from space (where else?), but you would think the military should have been able to combat them better than they apparently did. If humanity survived long enough that newscasters spoke about how to survive the infestation, surely the government would have come up with a plan to lure them into an area using a loud noise and then blown them up.
- Lastly, an arguable plot hole: Earlier on in the film, we see a newspaper clip that says the monster’s armour is impenetrable. Why, then, was Evelyn able to kill one with a shotgun?
Overall, A Quiet Place is a surprisingly enjoyable and successful film. It sets itself up effectively and plausibly. The acting was convincing and impressive, considering Krasinsky’s background, and that two child actors starred. I am very excited to see what he comes out with next.