It’s no secret that 2017 was an outstanding year for horror and genre films, a year which culminated in Academy awards for genre films Get Out and The Shape of Water. A Quiet Place looks to keep that momentum going as it is the first truly great horror film of 2018. Packed with as much terror as it is with emotion, this innovative tension-filled film is a stunning addition to the horror genre.
John Krasinski returns to the director’s chair for A Quiet Place, a film in which he also stars, co-wrote and executive produced. Joining Krasinski’s character, Lee, is Emily Blunt as Evelyn, Noah Jupe as Marcus, Millicent Simmonds as Regan and Cade Woodward as Beau. They make up a family living in a world that has been overtaken by ruthless monsters who are extremely sensitive to sound. In order to survive, the Abbott family is forced to live in complete silence or risk being attacked.
The film opens up on day 89 of having these creatures roaming around the globe. It wastes no time in explaining what they are or where they came from, instead opting for simply throwing the audience into this terrifying world. The opening scene is crucial for letting audience know what kind of story this is. It does a marvelous job at introducing this idea of having to be completely quiet and does so simply by focusing on character’s actions and behaviors. A Quiet Place is highly reliant on character’s emotions and expressions, and this is expertly illustrated in the opening moments of the film. The opening also serves as a catalyst for what turns out to be a highly compelling family drama, which pays off with heartbreaking effect later on in the film.
Alfred Hitchcock once said, “There is no terror in the ‘bang’, only in the anticipation of it.” That quote was true for Hitchcock’s career, and it is true for A Quiet Place. Sound, and the lack thereof, is almost its own character in this film. It is the reason that the audience will be at the edge of their seat. Yes, the monsters are fantastic and beautifully designed, but it is the use of sound that is truly terrifying. There are various moments that will leave the audience holding its breath because they know that a sound is coming and that things are about to get ugly. That tension is ongoing for the entire duration of the film with such relentlessness that when the ending arrives, the audience feels emotionally and physically drained.
As mentioned before, this is more than just a horror film. At the center of this film is a compelling family drama. Despite the fact that there is almost no dialogue, you really get to know this family much more than you do with most characters in most horror films. The eyes of the characters are essential and tell us so much about them. Regan, for example, is deaf and Lee is tirelessly working to make hearing aids for her to finally be able to hear. In Lee’s eyes you can see the frustration of constantly failing to do so. You can see the pain in not knowing if he will be able to keep his family safe. In Regan’s eyes, there is disappointment and there is guilt over past actions. We are aware of how afraid these people are and in how much pain they’ve been, but this makes the rare moments of happiness stand out even more.
To say that A Quiet Place is impressive would be an understatement. It is a masterpiece and should be recognized as such. It is wholly original and inventive, accompanied with a fantastic cast. It is packed with tension, drama and is the rare film that uses jump scares effectively. Every scare, every emotion and every tear (because, yes, this film might make you cry) is earned. John Krasinski has unexpectedly delivered one of the great horror films of the decade and one that, with time, will undoubtedly go down as a classic.