Hot Take: One of the most tension-filled films in recent memory. By far, the best movie of 2018 to date. It’s also one of the best “Go to the Movies” movies in quite some time.
While Titanic isn’t my favorite film (although it’s in my Top 5), it is easily the movie I enjoy seeing the most in theaters. Every time it is re-released, I go as far as I need to go to see it. I’ve seen it 8 times in theaters. It’s one of those theatrical experiences that you don’t get from most movies. A Quiet Place, a suspense/thriller/horror where making a sound can get you killed from John Krasinski (Jim from The Office), is the latest film to qualify as one of the top “Go to the Movies” movies of the 2000s. That doesn’t necessarily make it one of the best movies, though it’s an excellent movie, also, but if it’s on your list to see and you’re thinking about waiting to see it at home (or you’re one of those people with the ability to illegally download movies currently in theaters… Shame on you, by the way!), you should clear your schedule and make time to see it where it was meant to be seen. A Quiet Place is one of those films that I can guarantee loses something outside of the cinema.
A Quiet Place begins in 2020, 8 days after Earth has been overrun by blind predators who have extremely sensitive hearing. The Abbott family silently pilfer a small store in a town on their travels as husband Lee (John Krasinski), wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt), daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and sons Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward) remain as silent as possible communicating through sign language as they look for supplies. Beau discovers a space shuttle toy with batteries inside that he begins to play with. Immediately, Lee takes the toy from him, quickly removes the battery and signs that he should not be playing with the toy. As they leave, Regan feels sorry for Beau and sneaks the toy back to him. As they leave, Beau grabs the batteries left on the counter. The family walks through the woods and begins to cross a bridge when suddenly, the sound of the toy can be heard. Lee, horrified, turns to protect his son, knowing what is likely to happen. In a flash, one of the creatures darts from the woods and obliterates Beau, killing him instantly.
The rest of the film takes place 472 days later. The Abbotts have established a residence on a farm where they grow food and silently function with little trouble. Lee sends daily S.O.S. signals across the radio and works on a hearing device for his daughter Regan who is deaf. Evelyn is pregnant and the family has been working on building a sound-proof room in the basement of the house. Still fearful of the creatures, they continue to live in silence to avoid further attacks from the predators which took their youngest child.
At some point in A Quiet Place, I noticed that I was grinding my teeth so hard that my jaw hurt. It’s rare for a film like A Quiet Place to pull off the amount of scares it’s able to deliver without feeling forced. Even though looking back, it’s easy to see how often the film preyed on the audience’s heightened senses thanks to an eerily quiet mood set by the film, in the moment, all of the jump scares felt authentic and unforced. You feel for the plight of the Abbotts who have been unable to have a vocal discussion since the creatures appeared. Applaud the efforts of Krasinski here who not only wrote an excellent screenplay but directs a tight, perfectly executed tale that weaves a feeling of desperation and dread while expressing how vital it is for this family to maintain some semblance of normalcy despite their grave situation.
In addition to Krasinski’s efforts in all three of his roles (writer, director and star) and the cast which all deliver incredible performances, credit cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen for delivering a dreadfully beautiful film to the big screen. The best suspense/horror films typically are the simplest of ideas. A Quiet Place is a near-perfect example of this. You don’t necessarily care where the creatures have come from because the characters can’t be bothered. They are too busy trying to survive. It has the feel of some of the best moments of an M. Night Shyamalan film and, in my many ways, feels like Signs but with a better pay-off and more plausible plot.
I can’t remember the last time I wanted to see a horror film again. A Quiet Place is the rare exception. Riddled with fear and uneasiness throughout the first viewing, it was nearly impossible to soak in the subtle touches of the well crafted film as it unfolded. I don’t know if that fear would be lessened by having seen the film once through already but the film is worthy enough to earn a second look. Krasinski should be praised for his impeccable sense of timing and pace and his ability to deliver such terror without the use of sound, a device so often used in congruence with terror in other horror films. This one relies on the lack of it, though, and from that void comes one scary flick that’ll likely keep you up a little after you watch… or at least a little quieter as you get ready for bed.
John Krasinski has established himself as more than Jim from The Office with this taxing, tense and downright scary flick.
You can’t even chew without making noise and we’re going to need you to be quiet throughout this viewing for the sake of The Abbotts.