Even when working off a plot device that doesn’t exactly test the limits of originality, a clever script and utter dedication from its workers can transform the familiar to something beyond our expectations. Such is the case with A Quiet Place, an impossibly eerie chiller that presents civilisation as a fallen project, and those who have survived must exist in a plane of silence.
There’s very little in terms of exposition (actor/director John Krasinski’s script, off a spec draft from Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, bypasses any explanation as to what has caused humanity’s extinction) but we honestly don’t care as it’s evident that making any form of noise is signing your own death sentence. A pre-credit sequence informs of the direness of the situation for the Abbott family (Krasinski and real-life wife Emily Blunt, with Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds and Cade Woodward as their children) as they raid an abandoned supermarket for various supplies. They communicate via sign language, they don’t wear shoes and, as we discover in one of the film’s many haunting set-pieces, the slightest noise attracts creatures of sorts that mercilessly hunt their prey through their intricate sense of sound.
It’s day 472 for the Abbotts when A Quiet Place kicks into an intense high gear, though not before Krasinski lays the foundation for the family’s somewhat-peaceful existence; we bask in the alluring love of Krasinski and Blunt as they tenderly dance to music through a pair of shared headphones. It seems so beautiful but we know it won’t last, and a heavily pregnant Blunt only adds a sense of palpable tension as we can only assume her due date is near.
I would be doing both this film and its receptive audience no favours by spoiling its key moments, though suffice to say the sound design and haunting musical score (courtesy of Marco Beltrami) ultimately earn their own credit as the true star of this impressively effective production. Also, despite a lack of spoken word, none of the performances suffer with the natural chemistry of Krasinski and Blunt shining through, and young Simmonds (the actress actually deaf) particularly impressive as she soars above the limitations of her disability, delivering an immeasurably emotional turn as the film’s most complex character.
Just as much a tale of family resilience as it is a survivalist horror film, A Quiet Place is masterful genre filmmaking that soars leaps and bounds above expectation. Whilst it may be too early to consider a modern-day classic, Krasinski’s effort is nothing short of striking and you’d be doing yourself an immeasurable favour by visiting his created place.