Director: John Krasinski
Cast: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe
Plot: The year is 2020. The world has been overrun by blind, deadly creatures. The Abbott family try to carve a living from this apocalyptic wasteland.
Emily Blunt taking the Abbott name. Now, there’s a movie plot worth paying for.
Joking and restraining orders aside, however, A Quiet Place is one of the most important horrors of the year. In a time when a good horror is no longer a rarity (2018 has already seen Ghost Stories and Unsane wow crowds), when a scary film gets people as excited as A Quiet Place does, you know you are onto a good thing. Perhaps there is more than one reason why A Quiet Place has become the movie worth taking about. Its use of deaf actress, Millicent Simmonds, is the thing that has got all of the critics excited. It isn’t just the casting, but the film’s incorporation of sign language into the very fabrics of the story. Simmonds’ character might be deaf, but there is so much more to the role. While the cast are universally fantastic, with Emily Blunt amazing as the vulnerable yet badass mother and Krasinski carrying multiple emotions with his pained yet stoic father figure, it will be Simmonds that gets the lion’s share of the credit. Some of her scenes are beautifully powerful, as she plays a teenager on the verge of a mental breakdown (while it suggests that some of her anguish is a stereotypical teenager thing, she has far more to deal with than the conventional adolescent), robbed of the ability to vocally vent her frustrations. It gives an understated magnificence to the dilemma of the family. One scene where her father tries to give her an aid to help her hearing, a vain hope that she can no longer put up with, is outstandingly powerful, as both Krasinski and Simmonds act their socks out without a single word. Acting and story aside, the success of A Quiet Place might be down to the opportunity for franchising. It is rare to have a horror movie monster that is more original than ghost, vampire, doll or man with knife; with A Quiet Place has a brand new villain and the possibilities for a continued universe are appealing indeed. It takes a satisfyingly long time for the creature to appear, first cropping up too fast for the audience to get a good look at, and later being shown as an out of focus figure in the distance. As the film portrays with pleasingly minimal exposition, the creatures are blind, hunt by sound and are protecting with tough armour. It is unsure how many there are (they are so fast, several of them could actually just be a single enemy), although Dad Krasinski believes there are three in the vicinity of his farm. This is a key fact in promoting any sequels without making up ridiculous reasons for a comeback. The fun is also in the fact that any moment could be the origins of a jump scare. Any sound attracts these murderous beings, so a simple board game could turn into a chaotic race for survival in a heartbeat. This gives us a movie that never gives the audience the chance to calm down between scary scenes.
However, the real reason A Quiet Place is so successful is not the actors, or the monsters, but Krasinski as a director. He truly understands how to make a film scary. In my opinion, one of the scariest scenes in cinematic history, isn’t one filled with gore, gimmicky shocks or overly dramatic music, but a single moment in a PG film: the raptor kitchen scene in Jurassic Park. It is a beautiful piece of cinema where two children are stalked by a pair of cunning, dangerous Raptors. The pacing and suspense are everything, quietly building up this feeling of utter panic in the audience. No, it’s not the kind of horror that keeps you up at night, but during that moment, goosebumps prickle up and down my skin. I am always completely in that moment. A Quiet Place is one of the only other films that has managed to redo that experience for me. Throughout the entire film, I may not be scared, but I am totally immersed in the circumstances of A Quiet Place. As Emily Blunt’s waters break, as she is hiding from a monster, I am encapsulated in her struggle to not scream with each contraction. And then she puts her foot through a nail… That is the shining example of horror brilliance in this film, but really the whole film is made up of these incredible moments. The deaf daughter not realising the monster is right behind her. Emily Blunt trapped in a flooding basement with one of the creatures. Krasinski and son stumble across a man who has lost the will to live in the forest. How can you narrow down this film to one scene?
Final Verdict: This time last year, Get Out managed to sneak its way into the OSCARs, despite its early release and choice of genre. Could A Quiet Place do the same?