‘A Quiet Place’, set a couple of years in the future, tells the story of a family learning to survive in a world run by aliens who hunt by sound. As the tag-line says, “If they can’t hear you, they can’t hunt you”. This original idea has been superbly translated onto the big screen, and is a masterclass in jump-scare horror that has big heart.
The film has made headlines this week for people joking about how quietly they’re having to eat their popcorn during the film, and I thought this was just a funny exaggeration on the premise that the film is set in a world where making sound kills you. I was wrong. Literally any sound you make in the cinema will be heard, as at least 60% of the film is silent. The tension is built incredibly well by having no sound whatsoever, and the sudden noise shocks the audience in the exact same way it would shock the inhabitants. What would be a cheap jump scare in most other films is a genuine reflection of the fear felt by the characters, and this is why the unique premise has served the film so well.
I really enjoyed that the film went straight into the action without any cheesy set up (such as the clichéd news reel explaining a natural disaster.) Instead relying on the ‘show don’t tell’ motive, the films premise is established over the first five minutes, when the methods, complications and consequences of staying quiet are all introduced. The film’s opening is incredibly strong, and fully draws you in, so the next 85 minutes are gone in a brilliantly entertaining blur.
What is most striking about the film, however, is the heart of it. While it is gaining attention mainly for its brilliant direction and unique premise, the strongest part is the family relationship struggling on through the trauma. The film stars real-life couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, and their on-screen relationship is so much more powerful because of it. The story is not only about physical survival, but also about surviving when a family relationship is put to the test. Parents protecting their children is one of the strongest themes in the film, and this is what makes it so beautiful to watch. I admit that there were tears in my eye at one point when the parents love for the children was most palpable on screen.
Overall the film is a superb piece of work. Krasinski’s direction is stellar, as are the performances of himself, Emily Blunt and their two (onscreen) children. Marco Beltrami’s score is suitably melancholy and tense, the sound design (where present) is brilliantly done and the editors have very well paced the film, perfectly building the tension. Take notes modern horror films. This is how it’s done!