A Quiet Place (2018)
Year Released: 2018
Director: John Krasinski
A family struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic near-future where monsters prey on the last remaining humans.
A Quiet Place wastes no time in establishing its premise – sound is dangerous, so use it only when you absolutely have to otherwise things will end very badly. This is perhaps the perfect metaphor for the film itself and the manner in which it is delivered. The use of sound, or more often the lack thereof, serves as both plot point and dramatic device, stripping away the bombastic dissonance of current ‘jump scare’ horror films and crafting a far more focused and immersive experience as a result
The film follows the Abbott family in the aftermath of a catastrophic global event; quite what that event was is uncertain, but it has resulted in creatures with hyper-sensitive hearing roaming the earth, killing anything that they can find. The ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this is unimportant and the film cleverly avoids the need to explain itself, leading us straight into the heart of the situation. Soon after we are shown the cruel consequences of sound in this world, giving both the characters and the audience all the reasons they needs to remain in suspenseful silence.
The family communicate almost exclusively through sign language, learned through caring for their deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds). This adds a unique nature to the way in which characters interact, focusing our attention on the minutiae of their body language and expressions. By encouraging us to observe the characters so closely, the film creates a surprising amount of emotional attachment to each family member with minimal interplay. As their situation becomes more and more precarious, we find ourselves wholly invested in their survival, despite knowing very little about either the context or backgrounds of the respective siblings.
Perhaps the strongest part of A Quiet Place is its pacing, which gradually and consistently increases the suspense through each scene. The film quickly moves between each set piece, holding our attention and maintaining the intensity; by the time we reach the films climax it has built to fever pitch and creates one of the most absorbing cinematic experiences of the last few years. If there was a negative throughout all of this, it is that the film does slip into some of the more traditional horror tropes in its final moments, but these are rather fleeting and do not detract from the overall impact of the film.
A Quiet Place is a great example of a single idea done well. Whilst the vast majority of current releases dilute their content in the hope of appealing to a broader audience, this film focuses on what makes it unique and celebrates this where possible. There are a whole host of details throughout that further help to flesh out the concept that underpins the plot; glimpses in the back of tracking shots, simple production design elements or even nuances in the behaviour of the ‘creatures’; all of which serve to create a more immersive and crafted world. It is because of this attention to detail that the films premise plays out so succinctly and how it manages to capture our attention so intensely. If only more films could be as confident and precise in their execution as this one.
100% yes. Whilst I personally would not consider this to be a horror film as such, it is a brilliantly immersive suspense thriller that offers an inventive and well-executed premise. Although I imagine that it could depreciate somewhat on repeat viewings, A Quiet Place certainly lives up to a lot of the early praise it received. 9/10