‘A Quiet Place’ is acutely terrifying and genuinely moving

Monday, April 9, 2018 - 9:55pm

"A Quiet Place"

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Paramount

John Krasinski’s (“The Hollars”) “A Quiet Place” explores a world where noise is the most dangerous element of all, where even a small cough can invite the deadly wrath of sound-seeking creatures, and where humans must completely adapt their way of life in order to stay hidden in plain sight. Krasinski’s film, which he co-wrote, directed and starred in, is an extremely inventive and acutely terrifying foray into the tensions between silence and sound, survival and sacrifice. “A Quiet Place” is intensely stressful and wholly engrossing; Krasinski’s manipulation of the rules and the stakes of his quakingly silent world makes for something overwhelming and nerve-jangling and brilliant.

“A Quiet Place” is a fascinating cross between a survival narrative and a horror film. The movie centers around the Abbott family, led by Lee (Krasinski) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt, “The Girl on the Train”), who have completely adapted every aspect of their way of life to survive. The most impressive parts of the film are these adaptations –– Krasinski employs a clever understanding of light, textures and materials to make daily life and communication possible. From feeling Monopoly game pieces to pathways lined with cornmeal, Krasinski shows a firm grasp on the details and nuances of a world where every sound must be muffled. Watching this family go about their daily routine is just as engrossing as the moments of bloody horror, because every detail is so meticulously thought out and creative. 

Along with its moments of paralyzing fear, “A Quiet Place” weaves a moving emotional arc about family, love and sacrifice. With almost no dialogue, the film relies heavily on close-up shots to express emotion and illustrate the ways in which this family is strained and bonded. The film is anchored by the genuine chemistry between Krasinski and Blunt, who believably will give anything to protect their children. Their daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds, “Wonderstruck”), more vulnerable to the monsters because of her deafness, struggles against the coddling of her parents while trying to prove her ability to take care of herself. She also holds herself responsible for the accidental tragedy that happened on a scavenging trip the year before. Simmonds delivers a great performance rooted in her actual disability that works as the emotional fulcrum of the film. “A Quiet Place” is successful for its portrayal of a loving family despite impossible odds and bone-chilling horrors. 

Communication is a central theme in the film. Because of Regan’s deafness, the family already speaks fluent sign language. “A Quite Place” reverses the stereotypical marginalization of deafness by showcasing sign language as a vital tool for communication and survival in a silent world. In this way, the film works as a piece of speculative fiction that reimagines an impairment as an enhancement.

Above all, Emily Blunt is the sensational focal point of this film. Her character is intricately layered and expertly performed –– she is the capable matriarch, tenacious in survival, but committed to the impossible task of bringing new life into this anarchic world. Blunt shoulders the weight of her character with grace and strength, proving once again her place in the Hollywood elite as a true movie star. She endures an endless series of horrors in this movie, always managing to center the story on family and perseverance over superficial jump-scares.

“A Quiet Place” is a movie unlike any other, an imaginative and thrilling deep-dive into the limitless ways humans can adapt and exist in severely limiting conditions. The film is unconcerned with the complications of a monster-ridden world at large, and instead focuses successfully on the dynamics of a single family’s struggle to connect and understand one another. It is a must-see that adds a new dimension to the genre of horror. 

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“A Quiet Place”

Paramount Pictures

Rave and Quality 16