If you’ve noticed, I don’t really review horror movies. The last one I saw was The Visit and I’m still terrified of old people. A Quiet Place looks interesting though and I was curious about what John Krasinski could deliver (as he both starred in and directed this film).
Our movie opens and it’s been 89 days since some sort of monsters started terrorizing the world. These monsters are blind but they have impeccable hearing, so even the slightest noise is instant death. We follow one family, though it’s clear there are other survivors out there. We have John Krasinski and Emily Blunt as the parents, and a son and a daughter played by Noah Jupe (Wonder) and Millicent Simmonds. The daughter, Simmonds, is deaf in the movie and deaf in real life. Together, they try to survive by making zero noise because their lives depend on it. To make matters worse, the mother is about to give birth, a scenario not typically known for being a quiet one.
I was worried this was going to be a real horror movie but it’s really not. This may upset some of you, but this is really just a suspense movie. There’s no real gore (it’s rated PG-13) and the jump scares are usually seen a mile away. But as a suspense film, it knocks it out of the park. From the first moment to the last, you’re on the edge of your seat. And the movie is almost entirely silent, aside from the occasional light music or during action sequences. This means you probably shouldn’t buy snacks or popcorn. There was the noisiest eater behind me that I wanted to punch. Even the smallest sounds become amplified in a theater of dead silence.
I was also intrigued by this world and the movie does a decent job of showing us instead of telling us. We see inventions and methods to survive in silence, without making a big deal of explaining those things. This is contrasted with a few overdone exposition moments including a white board that is really only intended for us. Some moments work, some don’t.
The cast is great, which is a relief. One weak link would’ve crashed this entire film. They managed to find two stellar children actors here and they each get moments to shine. Both Blunt and Krasinski carry the movie, though they don’t get to show much range. Unfortunately the only real emotion on display is “terrified.”
This gimmick works as an idea. Monsters that kill based on sound. However, when that idea is implemented as a feature film, it becomes a bit of a slow burn. The second half of the film is fast and intense, though the first half is much slower. The characters communicate with sign language, so even dialogue is still near-silent. A few folks were dozing off in the theater or checking their phones.
I also mentioned there isn’t any gore. This normally isn’t a problem, but it also means that any character death is underwhelming because we never really get a death scene or anything, it all happens in a flash. There’s one death especially that could’ve benefited from some more time to really feel the impact.
And like I referenced in the what works section… The actors don’t get to show any range, though they excel at being terrified. The pacing is a little slow in the beginning. And one noisy person in the theater can ruin this entire experience, which is something out of your control.
Lastly, we have some huge plot issues, which I can’t really go into specifics on. Things happen which are unexplained, characters do things on a whim that somehow don’t feel earned, and ultimately there’s few big jumps in logic that don’t quite work.
A Quiet Place is a unique story and a film that does something new. The cast is great, the world they’ve built is interesting, and the tension runs through the entire film. However, it’s a slow burn to get to the action, the actors only get one emotion to play with, and the few “big” moments are a bit underwhelming. Ultimately, this is a fun experiment, but is likely forgettable in the long term.