Silence has never been so loud as it is in John Krasinski’s nerve-shredding horror debut, “A Quiet Place”.
In a post-apocalyptic world overrun by monstrous predators who hunt by sound, Lee and Evelyn Abbott (real life husband and wife John Krasinski and Emily Blunt) eke out a silent existence with their three children, every moment focussed on being as quiet as possible. When a trip to a nearby abandoned town for some much-needed medicine ends in tragedy, the guilt creates fractures in the family unit even as they must stick together to survive.
Like many great horror movies, the central concept behind “A Quiet Place” starts to look a little shaky the more you scrutinise it, but that’s absolutely not a problem you’ll have during the film, as Krasinski keeps the nerve-shredding tension ratcheting up throughout the lean 90-minute runtime. The weight and implications of a life of silence fill the gaps between the terrors with a potent emotional intensity and building dread , creating an intoxicating thematic brew which ruthlessly exploits parental fears and anxieties and blends it with a brutally allegorical illustration of the socio-political implications of being involuntarily silenced by the threat of violence and death.
A survival thriller with real, emotional stakes which absolutely refuses to pander to the need to understand every minute detail of the backstory, the horror of the creatures is magnified by their namelessness and the complete absence of an explanation of where they came from. They just are; potent, ruthless forces of nature and they certainly don’t disappoint when we finally get a good look at them.
The performances from the four principals are superb, with Emily Blunt leading the pack but each of them deliver performances of remarkable physicality and authenticity. The idea of an enforced silent existence is neatly counterpointed by Regan Abbott (played by deaf actress Millicent Simmonds) whose world has always been silent, bringing its own advantages and disadvantages in this newly hushed world. Without the crutch of expository dialogue, the characters are left to tell their stories through body and sign language, facial expressions and the occasional, indulgent whisper.
Krasinski shows a sure grasp of how to build and maintain suspense in fact, you might say he absolutely nails it, deftly weaving the escalating circumstances of the desperate battle to stay alive to a thrilling conclusion. It might be a movie about silence but it’s far from a silent movie and the use of music and sound is as masterful as the performances. It’s absolutely a film to see in as full a theatre as you can find. The film’s imperative of silence has a fascinatingly oppressive effect on the audience and you’ll likely never have heard a cinema as quiet as it will be during this.