“A Quiet Place” takes horror in an ambitious direction with its anticipated debut on April 6. Starring real-life couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, this film is gut-wrenching, fast paced and heartfelt all in one.
The film opens to a title card announcing Day 89 of a post-apocalyptic world set not too far into the future. “A Quiet Place” lets the audience piece together the terrible events that occurred through old newspaper clippings and posters of missing people stapled to storefronts. At a time before the present plot, vicious alien-like creatures invaded Earth. The creatures are violent but are blind, so they rely on their enhanced hearing to attack their prey, which is anyone that makes a sound.
The Abbott family, who are presumed to be the only people to have survived, are seen scavenging an abandoned supermarket. Lee and Evelyn (Krasinski and Blunt) and their three children communicate in sign language. The youngest child shows interest in a battery-operated toy rocket ship that the parents leave behind out of fear that the toy can produce unnecessary noise.
Regan, their daughter who is played by deaf actress Millicent Simmonds, sneaks her brother the rocket ship as an innocent gesture. This has tragic consequences not long after they leave the store.
As the family is walking back to their home, the toy turns on and immediately alerts the creatures. In a smoothly executed attack, the boy is brutally killed by the aliens, which proves to the audience just how high the stakes are. The plot leaps forward about a year later where we see that Evelyn is now pregnant, Lee and his other son (Noah Jupe) forage the surrounding area as a source of survival and Regan is still mourning with guilt over her brother’s death.
This opening sequence makes the slightest word said or footstep taken in the film dreadful for the entire theater. Unlike many horror movies, “A Quiet Place” plays on the viewer’s love for the small cast. Krasinski and Blunt’s chemistry on screen makes any attack on the family seem outright personal. Simmonds, who has no verbal dialogue throughout the film, convincingly conveys guilt and sadness purely through facial expressions. Jupe’s wide-eyed fear evokes earned sympathy from those watching, making him integral to the movie’s conflict.
Along with being the star of the cast, Krasinski also directed the film. His direction forces the audience to pay attention to detail, such as slight facial expressions, sounds and hints hidden throughout the film’s rural set. The film’s threatening tone and grim images will stick with viewers long after leaving the theater. This was the exact atmosphere for the film that Krasinski wanted to set.
“We live in a world now where you see all these movies and there’s so much sound going on, so many explosions,” Krasinski said in an interview with the New York Times. “I love these movies, but there’s something about all that noise that assaults you, in a way. We thought, what if you pulled all that back? Would that make it feel just as disconcerting and just as uncomfortable and tense?”
Krasinski worked with sound editors Ethan Van Der Ryan and Erik Aadahl to create what they coined as, “sound envelopes.” This puts the audience in a characters shoes to hear what they hear. This is especially interesting when being placed in Regan’s shoes, for she wears a cochlear implant that gives her minimal hearing. All that the audience hears in those moments are the gentle pulses of her heart and unsteady breathing.
These experimental features of the film pleased critics, and it currently holds an approval rating of 97 percent based on 126 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Deadline Hollywood reported on March 15 that the film was projected to gross around $20 million in its opening weekend. However, the film smashed expectations, grossing over $50 million in ticket sales in its first weekend, according to Time Magazine.
Among those hoping to see “A Quiet Place” this weekend is freshman film major Taylor Sniffen.
“I definitely want to see this movie. I’ve heard it’s both heartbreaking and horrifying at the same time and that’s right up my ally.” Sniffen said. “Plus it’s John Krasinski and Emily Blunt acting together. What could be better?”
Putting the horror aspects aside, the real meaning of the film is hidden within the parental themes found throughout the movie. The core conflict of the film is keeping the family together and preparing for the presumably bleak, silent future ahead.
“Who are we if we can’t protect them?” Evelyn says to her husband after giving birth.
It can be puzzling to anyone watching how one could bring a child into such a dark world, but the fight for their children’s survival ultimately pays tribute to any parent navigating obstacles. While the silence in “A Quiet Place” can be torturous, the refreshing take on horror does the speaking for it.