We are in a new golden age of horror films. In recent times bone-chilling, nerve-jangling horror films with substance have come out to thrill audiences. It, Get Out, It Comes at Night, Raw, Gerald’s Game, and Happy Death Day have all gotten rave reviews for being fun, terrifying, or incredibly clever.
John Krasinski (known to many as Jim from The Office) co-writes, co-producers, directs and stars in this taut horror film about a family under threat from a noise sensitive horde of predators. Krasinski’s real-life wife Emily Blunt portrays his pregnant wife, and the kids are played by Noah Jupe (of Suburbicon) and Millicent Simmonds (Wonderstruck).
From the off, the film lays its cards very easily. Sound – bad, silence – life. Krasinski may only have a few indie comedy-dramas under his directorial belt but he directs with ease and confidence along with his cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen; together they manage to create tension in the pre-title sequence.
The film is dependent on its technical prowess, but from the score by Marco Beltrami – often sounding like an impending siren of doom – the production design of a better way of life by Jeffrey Beecroft, and the art and set decoration by Sebastian Schroeder and Heather Loeffler, create this near Amish world where things are ending.
The tension comes from one simple but important piece of casting: Millicent Simmonds is a deaf actress playing a deaf character, and the tension is palpable. It’s a very real fear that noise sensitive creatures would target someone who has no idea how much noise they are or are not making. The performances are all universally great, with the parental angst of protecting one’s children being juxtaposed with an impending issue: what will happen when Emily Blunt needs to give birth?
The film riffs off of horror films from the past: a key sequence in the basement calls to mind Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, while the farm setting feels like a riff on Signs, but this is not just a rehash on horror films of the past; despite the creatures being very insect-like and the tension being painful to the most degree, the real horror is the fact that the audience cares for the family and wants to see them succeed.
It’s brave of Krasinski to do away with most of the dialogue and opt for an altogether more quiet affair. At times, the sound effects and score are taken out so we feel as Simmonds feels. The building tension, as well as the guilt the characters feel, are made all the more intense by a lack of explanation. What are these predators? Why are they sensitive to sound? How have these people survived when most others have not? Why would you conceive a child when sound is not acceptable?
The film also clocks in at a very brisk running time making for a real rollercoaster ride, it’s the sort of film that hooks you from the get-go and does not let up until the very end. This is a film that will last no matter where it is seen. If seen in a cinema, do not eat nachos, crunching is bad. If it’s seen in a house, double glazing and WD40 may be needed for the more creaky of doors.
There is a very real chance that this could become a big hit with audiences, after all, horror is one of those classic genres that guarantee people will show up to see it, and with the rave reviews it seems to be receiving, it could be a packed house of people being scared. Chances are that screenings of A Quiet Place will be a very noisy place to be.
Paul Klein is a Film Studies Graduate from London, former writer at The Metropolist.