Every horror movie world has a set of rules which every character must follow in order to avoid their inevitable demise. However, John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place” puts forth the rule that, as the title implies, the characters cannot even make the faintest noise or else their chances of survival would diminish significantly. Krasinski does a stellar job at displaying the anxieties, vexations and innumerable other excruciating predicaments that the few surprisingly alive humans in this world have to endure.
However, out of these scarce survivors, the audience for the most part follows a single family,with Krasinski as the patriarch, Emily Blunt as the nurturing mother and their three kids including two boys and a deaf daughter. In a world where creatures with heightened hearing abilities have taken over the Earth and are out to exterminate every other living creature that makes a sound, these challenging circumstances based on Scott Beck and Bryan Woods’ original script very much ends up being a tale of love and family.
Shot in Upstate New York, Krasinski and team were aiming for a rural isolated space for the family to live out in silence. Krasinski and Blunt deliver brilliant performances as the exhausted, concerned parents that are somehow still capable protectors, even in the extraneous circumstances surrounding them. This goes for the children too, as Millicent Simmonds knocks it out of the park playing the conflicted daughter, and Noah Jupe forces audiences to empathize with him and feel his fear. Moreover, one of the best moments in the film is shared between him and Krasinski; it’s a scene that explores the father-son dynamic unlike any other portrayal seen in recent times, and especially not in the others usually structured around sex and/or friends themes of horror flicks.
These brilliant characters are accompanied by the real main character of the film, sound. The essential premise of the plot demands the restriction of dialogue amongst the characters. This restriction results in a break from the hackneyed approach to the horror genre where the characters spell out what’s already happening on screen. The film relies strictly on visual storytelling. Krasinski trusts the audience to understand the rules of his world purely based on what he shows on-screen. The production design is extremely intricate for the makeshift survival camp that the family has built. From sand to dampen the footsteps, to cloth game pieces for Monopoly, every bit of detail screams paranoia and tension. The character could be having an intimate moment, like the parents dancing together in silence while sharing earbuds, but the audience could still be left biting their nails for any possible sound leaking from the headphones.
The sound design, in conjunction with the production design, composition and editing flows incredibly in the movie, revealing new details with every cut. The sound design consistently embodies the shot it is in; a wide shot will have a different level of sound, and a close up will be more vulnerable to stimulus. Even the absence of sound for Simmonds’ character helps audiences embody her psyche and observe the already unique world from her even more unique perspective. Additionally, the concept of louder sounds drowning out others is geniusly executed.
However, even though “A Quiet Place” breaks and challenges most horror tropes, it still falls prey to the good-old characters making a few avoidable mistakes (which can also be forgiven since it’s usually the younger kids making them) and some unnecessary jump scares (which also are there to keep the intrigue at a continual high). Nonetheless, Krasinski’s traditional but still original approach to directing, performances that all consistently stay true to the world and characters, impeccable production design and inspiring sound design all combine to deliver a film that delivers fast-paced enthralling entertainment.