A Quiet Place Is A Horror Film of Few Words & A Lot of Heart

by Ben Martin

There’s no apocalypse now, but it’s coming. Or at least, that’s what we as humans have always believed, and with good reason. Throughout history, you can read about the respective ends of various civilizations. Therefore, it stands to reason that our modern culture will eventually come to an end as well. Since this signals the end of humanity and thereby, surviving such an inevitable ending is such a concrete notion of the psyche, post-apocalyptic fiction has always been a popular subgenre. One which mainly thrives in the action and horror genres. The latest example of which falls into the latter style is A Quiet Place.
The film focuses on The Abbots, a family just trying to survive in the wake of the apocalypse. Few, if any, other humans remain after a mysterious invasion of creatures left the world in shambles. These creatures had the upper-hand on humanity as they’re predators who hunt based on sound. A noise, above even that of a whisper could mean the end of one’s life. Lee and Evelyn Abbott (played by real-life husband and wife John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, respectively) are parents just trying to protect their children. Their eldest, Regan (Millicent Simmonds) is a pre-teen, seeking a new level of independence as well as a higher place in helping ensure her family’s survival. Despite being deaf, Regan does not let this slow her down. On the contrary, she uses her particular situation to increase her likelihood of survival. Then, there are the two younger brothers, Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward). Together, The Abbotts struggle to survive as a family, silently.

Having seen my fair-share of post-apocalyptic horror films over the years, I thought A Quiet Place sounded interesting enough when news broke about it a year or so ago. But the aspect of said news that made the movie intriguing wasn’t the story; it was the hook…silence is survival. Post-apocalyptic survival stories are a dime-a-dozen, but the idea of utilizing silence as a primary plot point and agent of tension is a unique idea. Then, a few months ago, the marketing for the A Quiet Place kicked-in and I knew I had to see it.
To say the film exceeded my expectations would be an understatement. It is without a doubt one of the most intense movies I’ve seen in a long time. I, and the rest of the audience, for that matter bought into this picture wholesale. It was a rare treat to feel silence envelope a theater. Much of this is thanks to the film’s script (co-written by Bryan Woods, Scott Buck, and Krasinski) and hook; but also John Krasinski’s (The Hollars) direction. I’d seen Krasinski’s first directorial effort, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (2009). A movie which I found to be competently made; but utterly forgettable. So, when I saw that the director had crafted a film with tension tighter than that of a helicopter parent with high blood pressure, I was shocked. He managed to make something here that’s so intense and engrossing that it should be watched in a theater.

Beyond all that, the reason this movie works so well is that it functions in multiple genres. You see, A Quiet Place is as much of a family drama as it is a horror flick. The speed at and amount to which I became invested in these characters surprised me. Furthermore, I was taken aback when at specific moments in the film, I found myself resisting the urge to shed a tear. More than anything, this is a film about parents willing to do anything to protect their kids. In other words, the absolute definition of parenthood.
As a guy, it was nice to see a portrayal of an active father who is willing to do what he has to for his family. Sadly, that isn’t something we see a lot on the big screen. Of course, what brings all this home are the performances of the cast, who are all fantastic. However, I must say that Millicent Simmonds’ performance stands out in particular. I love the fact  that an actress who is deaf (Simmonds) was cast in a role a deaf character’s role. Not only is that smart on the filmmakers’ part, I feel is a move toward more work and equality for actors with physical challenges. On a related note, I enjoyed the fact that the characters all used American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate as it just added to the authenticity of it all.

While this movie isn’t perfect, it’s one of the year’s best, thus far. Yes, there are a few things I would change, such as not showing the creatures. However, none of those things detract from the quality of the movie. I encourage you to see A Quiet Place as soon as possible. Not only is it one of the most intense movies you’re likely to experience. It’s also one of the best movies about a family that I think I’ve ever seen. Go to your local theater and get yourself a ticket. Sit down in the darkness of theater and listen; once A Quiet Place begins you only here the resounding silence get stronger as this film takes you on a tense, emotional rollercoaster.


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