I can’t help but feel that there’s at least a little bit of irony in the fact that the best film to have ever come into contact with the name Michael Bay would be called “A Quiet Place.” But knowing Platinum Dunes’s own track record with horror film remakes I was skeptical of what A Quiet Place would even be like given its high concept. But to see that something of this very sort would have been written and directed by John Krasinski of all people, I kept thinking of a certain bit from The Office in which everyone was quiet in order to achieve their longest silent streak (which is a very funny bit). I kept thinking of it because Jim led the whole team on that streak, and now here he is, making and starring in a horror movie that takes said bit to a whole new level. And what he presented this time only makes oneself feel so stressful within the moment.
Set in a not-too-distant future, this film revolves around a family that is trying to survive an attack from a strange creature that hunts them by sound; through living a life as silently as possible. At its most effective, A Quiet Place is a simple horror film that creates a whole environment for the premise in which it carries, but what’s most impressive here is the way John Krasinski understands what he is working with as the director of a horror film. He isn’t exactly doing anything new with the genre, but his understanding of the cinematic language as he works behind and in front of the camera is incredible. It’s incredible because it feels like he knows how to craft an effective thriller, even with typical genre conventions in his hands – but that’s another issue to be addressed later.
A Quiet Place is a stressful film to watch, because it makes you feel trapped in that very position where in the theater, you want to hold in every cough or halt before grabbing out popcorn – all of which comes from the way Krasinski uses sound in order to keep the film moving at a steady pace. The technical accomplishments of this movie alone are enough for oneself to even feel the smallest movements or even a pinprick coming from where you are seated. Krasinski doesn’t need exposition in order to create an engaging narrative, but from how he sets up the background already establishes a perfect atmosphere for the story in order to feel everything that its characters have to face. The minimalism that Krasinski uses makes for an intense experience all throughout.
In the film’s lead are John Krasinski and his wife, Emily Blunt. What’s most commendable about their efforts is how much emotion they can elicit without needing to say words, and when they finally get their moments to start talking, something more intimate comes into play. Krasinski creates a fascinating character study here, because of how well he forms an environment to reflect their mood. With what he sets up, his actors do incredibly, but the standout is clear in Millicent Simmonds. Simmonds, who is deaf in real life, plays the deaf daughter in the family, gives arguably the best performance in the whole bunch – for what she presents in that character, not being able to hear danger that comes forth, is a feeling of terror. It’s admirable on Krasinski’s part to go as far as to casting a deaf actress in that role rather than having someone pretending to be deaf, not just for the representation, but in order to make that terror feel authentic.
Regarding an issue to which I had with what the film managed to accomplish technically, I can’t help but feel to some extent it also seems undone. The score, composed by Marco Beltrami, becomes very detrimental to the minimalistic experience of the film – because it feels invasive. It feels invasive because it sounds like the score you’ve heard to so many other horror movies in the past, and in a sense it even contradicts the film’s own goal, which is to elicit a very feeling from the sounds that you hear all around you – and this score breaks the tension. It breaks the tension because it is oftentimes very loud and you hear it where you’d already expect it to come by, and it never works. It never works because this film just simply never needs it.
Because of how well everything works from the minimalism, I’m a bit conflicted too about how to feel about the ending. I felt rather conflicted because I knew if it went further on, it could eventually turn into another monster horror movie – and the film worked well enough straying away from that. At the same time, I can’t help but feel as if it is also terribly abrupt. It seems so terribly abrupt because the climax already feels as if it was where the film was already going to lead, which undoes the wonder present in the creativity of its premise and the stressfulness of the environment that Krasinski places yourself within. While I admire the notion that Krasinski leaves with the audiences wanting more, I can’t help but feel as if its delivery also seems rather rushed at that.
A Quiet Place isn’t doing anything especially new for the horror genre, but that doesn’t really become as much of a bother as it should be. While it feels terribly clear that Krasinski does not have much of a background in directing horror, what he left us with A Quiet Place is something that has me waiting for much more to come under his own name. It has me waiting for more because of how John Krasinski understands what it is that elicits a very mood for a horror film, especially for a great theatrical experience. Though I feel it could have done so much more with its own premise without the need to resort to familiar tropes, the technical accomplishments of A Quiet Place alone are enough to make it worth your time.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Paramount Pictures.
Directed by John Krasinski
Screenplay by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski
Produced by Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller
Starring Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds
Release Year: 2018
Running Time: 95 minutes