A QUIET PLACE

When I was a child, there was this board game called Don’t Wake Daddy. The goal was to sneak around the board to get to the kitchen late at night, trying to avoid any hazards that will cause noise and wake up pops. If you cause a commotion and he wakes up, “it’s back to bed with you,” as the commercial would say. It was a fun game to play, but even more fun to play for real, sneaking downstairs during the late hours of the night, trying my best to not wake up my parents. It was always a suspenseful sensation to be stealthy, but always comforting knowing the worst that can happen is they send you off to bed. They certainly aren’t going to eat you. 

In A Quiet Place, the human population has been nearly wiped out by mysterious, predatory creatures that have no sight, but extremely acute and sensitive hearing. After the death of their youngest child, Lee Abbott (Jim from The Office), his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt), and their two children try their best to live a life of silent solitude out in the countryside. While Lee attempts to study these creatures and communicate with any other survivors via radio, Evelyn tries to take care of her children, including her soon to be born child. They must be sure to never make even the slightest sound, though, as the monsters are constantly waiting for their next meal. 

Horror is one of my favorite genres and I love all different types of it. I love slow burning, subtle horror that creeps you out and gets under your skin, but I also enjoy fast paced, in your face horror with a lot of crazy gore effects. As long as I was entertained and legitimately creeped out or frightened, then I’d say it did its job. A Quiet Place is a perfect mixture of both types of horror, building immense tension through eerie silence and capping it off with the loud shriek of a grotesque monster. Not only did he just star in this, but Jim from The Office was the director, and he shows he knows how to build an atmosphere from the get-go. It’s almost a silent film, with only occasional scenes of dialogue, and even then, the characters mostly speak sign language.

The tension of the characters trying to be quiet as possible with a monster right next to them is palpable, making you almost want to be as silent as the characters when you’re in the theater. As it should be, the sound design and mixing are the highlights in the technical department. From the low-octave ear ringing we hear whenever we’re viewing things from the deaf child’s perspective, to something as simple as a board creaking, every time a sound is made, it may as well be glass shattering. The entire world of the film feels so developed and lived in, with newspaper clippings in the background filling in the necessary information. The monsters were really neat too, looking like some sort of mixture of xenomorphs from Alien and lickers from Resident Evil, with surprisingly great CGI to bring them to life. 

The tension and scares were certainly all there, but so were the characters and the performances. For a film with such sparse dialogue, Jim from The Office and screenwriter Bryan Woods and Scott Beck do an excellent job at developing the characters and making them feel like real people. It may have helped that Jim from The Office and Emily Blunt are actually married in real life, their authentically sweet chemistry coming off as believable on screen. You learn all you need to know about these characters through the visuals and body language, the dialogue only emphasizing it. It primarily deals with themes like survival and protecting your children, especially since the film kills off a kid within the first five minutes. Realistically, children wouldn’t survive a lot of the awful situations they do in other horror movies, like zombie apocalypses, or alien invasions, so I appreciate when filmmakers have the balls to kill them off. It doesn’t just make the film more authentic, but also more tense, because if a child can die, then really nobody is safe. While watching, I was genuinely terrified for the characters and wanted them to survive, but it was never predictable to where I knew if they would, or not.

A Quiet Place 
doesn’t break any new ground as far as horror films go, but it’s an extremely effective horror film that makes great use of it’s incredibly simple premise. Perhaps the premise is a bit too simple, as the last half of the film is non-stop tension and monster attacks, causing it to drag on a bit. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t tense the entire time, though. It reminded me a lot of old-school horror films which are simple on their surface, but are executed to near perfection with strong characters, immersive filmmaking, and relentless tension. What more could you ask for?

9/10

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