For his latest time at bat behind the camera, John Krasinski has crafted one of the most boldly innovative and stellar monster movies in years with A Quiet Place, a movie that terrifies and thrills just as much as it hits you right in the gut with an emotionally driven narrative that never sacrifices its story for scares (or vice versa). There’s an intricacy to Krasinski’s methodology in A Quiet Place that feels wholly organic to the overtly simple concept by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck (who both get story credits here, as well as screenwriting credits with Krasinski), and beyond the fact that the film is an incredible piece of genre storytelling, on a technical level A Quiet Place is an absolute marvel as well, proving that innovation can be so very crucial when it comes to crafting movies in this day and age.
In A Quiet Place, Krasinski introduces us to a brand new world filled with monsters and silence. It’s been 89 days since the space beasties crashed here on Earth, and they have killed everything in their path that makes any kind of noise, due to their hyper-sensitive hearing and penchant for total destruction. Somehow, a family (led by Krasinski and his real-life partner in crime Emily Blunt) have survived thus far and are making their way to an idyllic farm where they hope they can live out the rest of their lives peacefully, without having to worry about the always looming threat of the otherworldly creatures. And for the most part, things are working out just fine, but as expected, complications arise, and that’s when the proverbial poop hits the fan.
It’s so hard to talk about how A Quiet Place is able to hit the storytelling heights that it does, simply because that would involve some major spoilers regarding several of the film’s utterly fantastic set pieces. Suffice to say, Krasinski exudes a great amount of confidence at the helm of A Quiet Place, knowing just when to go for the jugular and when to pull back and let the creeping dread that continually lingers over this family chip away at the viewer’s subconscious. As mentioned, the premise for the film is rather straightforward (monsters want to eat humans), but if you start to really pay attention to all the little details in A Quiet Place (particularly Krasinski’s character’s workshop, which seems to be a treasure trove of Easter eggs), you begin to see that there’s something much bigger going on here than just another movie that pits a family against a bunch of alien invaders.
Something else that really struck me about A Quiet Place is that for as much as it is a great horror/sci-fi mash-up, what this story is really about are all the fears that every parent faces: wanting to do right by your kids, wanting to protect them, wanting to prepare them for the world, and doing whatever it takes to help them survive. Krasinski achieves all of this without ever getting too heavy-handed with the material or relying too much on sentimentality. There’s a genuine affection shared between these characters, and for as great as both Blunt and Krasinski are, their younger co-stars Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe are equally fantastic, delivering performances that are well beyond their years.
As you can imagine, the sound design is so very crucial to A Quiet Place and elevates the material in ways I cannot possibly begin to express (if it’s not nominated in a few technical categories for next year’s Oscars, it would be a travesty). Also, I appreciated how the film not only incorporated Simmonds' real-life hearing loss in a very thoughtful way, but also made her into something of an “equal” (and not a "lesser"), since all of the characters now exist in a world devoid of sound. Maybe that sounds a little strange, but I had friends back home whose son had to get a cochlear implant when he was two years old, and he spent many years being told he was “different” from all the other kids. In A Quiet Place, Simmonds feels just as much a part of this world as the other characters who have no hearing issues.
Easily the best monster movie since the arrival of Cloverfield in 2008, A Quiet Place is an absolute stunner that just fires on every cylinder. Krasinski has made something truly special with his latest directorial effort, and I love that some of the ballsiest forward-thinking genre movies we’ve seen in the last 16 months or so have all come out of Paramount. A Quiet Place hits theaters on April 6th, and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s definitely something to be experienced on the big screen with a packed theater (it’s probably in my top five SXSW screening experiences of the eight years I’ve attended the fest).
Movie Score: 4.5/5
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