95 Minutes of Terror: A QUIET PLACE
What I thoroughly enjoy about well executed horror films, is on one hand their meant to make you feel fear and in the process of that journey, it often times can result in this sense of empowerment. Perhaps, it’s the notion of running along side the protagonist, because they’re trying to survive something they’re not meant to survive. John Krasinski co-wrote, directed, and starred alongside his wife, Emily Blunt in this classic, refreshing, American horror film, A QUIET PLACE. It has a gripping amount of intensity, where every scene while pushing the story forward has its exhilarating twists and turns which is highly effective. And since this is a post apocalyptic world, the story doesn't begin from the onset of when these creatures arrived, it instead jumps ahead in time to day 89, totally bypassing all the cliche nuisances you typically see in a monster invasion type film. The characters have already figured out and placed a system in which to survive. This invites for some meticulous details, such as the characters don't wear shoes, don't eat on plates, play with soft fabric game pieces for Monopoly and use sign language to communicate with one another, anything to avoid sound.
In every crevice of the film, family is first. We're rooting for the characters from the get go, while the background threat are these creatures. We don't dig into the big questions of why and how they're here because this story is about survival from beginning to end. Set in a post apocalyptic world where any sound you make will get you killed instantaneously is the highlighting staple that drives the story through some pretty intense moments. These destructive creatures that eerily remind me of the aliens from WAR OF THE WORLD are consequently much more excruciatingly violent than they’re awkwardly built. However, (without giving too much away) in the first act, when something goes horribly awry, the family is forced to deal with grief as the story jumps in time through the course of a year. Grief has that underlining, undeniable presence yet keeping these characters’ sanity intact while trying to live a soundless life amplifies the drama. Its like a creepy shadow always attached, lingering in the depth and essence of their state of being. It’s a great layer of depth especially in a horror story.
As the story progresses, the mother (played by Emily Blunt) is pregnant. Its very alarming essentially warranting her death sentence which is ironic because bringing life into the world is supposed to be a gift. So twisted.The family continues on, as the father (John Krasinski) being hellbent on learning everything he can about these sensitive-to-sound creatures, his deaf daughter is under the impression he hates her (for certain reasons) and his eldest son is learning about math from his mother all while not making a single sound. Captivating, isn’t it? And who would have thought having a quiet dinner at home, while the kids play Monopoly on the living room floor could turn their lives upside down in a blink of an eye! One fatal step, and your toast! The rules of this world make the story work on screen which is probably why its intriguing the audience rightfully so. Ever been in a very quiet movie? I could hear the person breathing beside me, that’s how quite this movie gets. Every sigh, every body movement, its incredible all the minute noises we make even if we’re not aware of it so intimately.
To say the least, given its opening weekend, A QUIET PLACE is finding its place and holds steady for Paramount Pictures, which apparently hasn’t been doing so swift? I’m glad someone over there decided to greenlight this picture.The fascinating part about this film is rooting for these characters to survive no matter how simple the obstacle seems it gets your heart racing. The emotional hook in the final act, is like a nail piercing your heart. I don’t want to spoil it, but I did well up a bit. Quite commendable because I don’t recall a time where I’ve ever welled up watching a horror film. So that’s a first! It tugs those delicate, intricate heart strings while also paying homage to some iconic horror film imagery and placing those moments of jump scares in all the right places.
From beginning to end this story is gripping, stripping one of all their instinctual senses of using sound to express oneself. Take that away and how would that make you feel? It’s a horror film that tries to feel like an M. Night Shyamalan thriller, but on a more so nerve racking, heightened level. Its not one of those over glorified bloodbath, dauntingly sadistic stories, but one that reaches its audience in an equally balanced, with significant depth kind of way. A story about survival when invaders threaten the primal essence that makes everyone human; sound. Forced to live in silence is a wild concept but seeing it on screen, relying heavily on the actors’ emotions, and body language to bring the story to life is amazing. The writers, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods were influenced by classic silent films from Charlie Chapman and Buster Keaton who told stories with their bodies in an era when talkies weren’t even invented yet. It’s so flipping cool to see classic films find new forms especially in a horror film.
A QUIET PLACE is terrifying just as much as it is electrifying. Krasinski's focus on certain imagery to heighten the suspense, especially revealing it the audience before the character definitely creates an air of anxiety. It's like he pulled the pin from a grenade that doesn't explode when you expect it to. I totally recommend this for the whole family to watch so you can later on roll up your sleeves and contemplate how you’d handle and survive this world. It certainly presents questions to say the least, if your loved ones were threatened. How the hell would you protect them? Not just in a fictional apocalypse, but really hone in on the realities of today? It gets you thinking.