This article previously appeared on Crossfader
Director: John Krasinski
Picture this. The year is 2002. The sci-fi thriller SIGNS just came out in theaters. Mel Gibson hasn’t totally annihilated his career yet and can show his face on screen. An iconic hit movie is making a shiny penny and everyone is happy. Cut to 16 years later and Jim Halpert from THE OFFICE has quit his desk job and has gone on to star in a film very similar to SIGNS, but there’s a catch: this one is more terrifying, unique, complex, and pleasantly void of anti-Semitic insanity. A QUIET PLACE is a beautifully innovative horror film that contributes to the genre in a one-of-a-kind fashion.
A QUIET PLACE depicts a family being hunted by blind monsters that locate their prey through sound. John Krasinski produced, directed, wrote, and starred in this very unique horror film: talk about a jack of all trades. Krasinski and co-star Emily Blunt are married in real life, AND the actress who plays their daughter, Millicent Simmons, is deaf in real life. Not only is there plenty of authenticity within the characters, but it’s wonderful to see an actress in a role where she can truly connect with the character on a level a hearing person could not. It brings a certain air of verisimilitude that is often ignored in most horror films.
Who else wants to see Jim Halpert convince Dwight Schrute that there are blind monsters after him and he can never make a single sound ever again?
This film had me flying through every emotion on the spectrum. I was laughing, jumping, screaming, crying . . . my lord, I was all over the place. It’s impressive to arouse one substantial emotion within a viewer, let alone several, especially when the genre in question is horror. While I’m thrilled Krasinski and Blunt were able to play opposite each other, their characters’ connection felt so strong that the interactions between them and their on-screen children seemed to suffer. I’m not necessarily calling anyone a bad actor, it’s just that the scenes with the couple were so genuine that the scenes with the kids appeared comparatively inauthentic. Save for one immensely sad moment, I wasn’t able to get myself to care about the parent/child relationships. However, the genuine nature that Simmons brings to her role and my rollercoaster of emotions offered up enough highs, lows, and anticipatory mid-grounds to make up for this slight shortcoming.
One of the shining moments in this film is the sound design. There was complete and utter silence at times, some white noise and sound effects at other times, and a full-on score when necessary. There was such an expert control over every single noise to the point where it felt more precise and deliberate than a Wes Anderson film. Sound is one of the best ways to provoke reactions from an audience, and A QUIET PLACE does it with ease. The monsters were so strange and unparalleled in their fear factor. They were semi-intelligent, creature-like, and extraordinarily unsettling. Their giant ears and movable exoskeleton made for a beast that was notably different, and I love it. I just wish that Krasinski and Blunt could have carried their feelings for each other into altercations with the children. Because of this, the film is ALMOST a perfect horror film. Almost.
Me in the bath trying not to think about all the work I’m not doing
Yes, this film is very similar to SIGNS in several respects. Both films portray a family living on a farm, tormented by a mysterious yet deadly entity that has started to plague the human race. That being said, I believe that A QUIET PLACE has characters, monsters, and rules that are all its own. It’s the upgraded version of SIGNS that we didn’t know we needed, but absolutely can’t do without now that we have it. The film’s ability to incite so many diverse emotions with a masterful command over sound is a colossal win in my book, and it gives me hope for the horror genre in the future.