Making his writing and directorial debut, John Krasinski stars alongside his off-screen wife, Emily Blunt, in “A Quiet Place,” a thriller which opened last weekend. Krasinski co-wrote the screenplay for the horror story, along with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck.
Fans of NBC’s “The Office” will recognize Krasinski as Jim Halpert. Krasinski’s taut thriller, “A Quiet Place,” promises to advance his big screen career substantially, not only as a producer and screenwriter, but also as a director, as the acting throughout the movie — including, specifically, from the child actors — was top notch.
Audiences immediately learn that the Abbott family is 89 days into an apocalyptic story which takes place, hauntingly, only two years into the future. In order to survive, they cannot make a sound, lest blind-but-not-deaf unearthly monsters will find them and kill them. The movie does not address the origin of the creatures — alien or domestic — and only states that they pose a major threat to worldwide human survival.
Paced beautifully, the story introduces viewers to the haunting novelty of living in a world without sound, rises suspensefully as Evelyn (Blunt) progresses through pregnancy, and climaxes when Evelyn goes into labor while the rest of the family is caught unaware and separated.
Blunt’s portrayal of a woman enduring childbirth without medical assistance and unable to make a single sound was captivating and believable. She would have earned Evelyn a “Woman of the Year” award for her wholly unnaturally silent yet “natural” childbirth. But credit also goes to Krasinski for his elegant and haunting direction, which delivers the third act respectfully and viscerally, without cheap blood or gore.
“A Quiet Place” is a movie in which everything that can go wrong does go wrong. I found myself silently biting my nails, clenching my fists, and hanging on to the edge of my seat as each carefully-constructed misstep advanced the plot and increased the tension.
One of the hallmarks of an exceptional piece is a satisfactory climax and resolution which ties together all threads. Every scene in “A Quiet Place” is intentional and important; every detail about the family’s life plays a role in the final act. The daughter’s deafness, Lee’s tinkering with hearing aids and radio technology, and the son’s penchant for pantomimes all show that nothing is extraneous or out of place.
Moreover, character development over the course of the film stresses the importance of family and love from all perspectives. Each character acts selflessly to protect another; by the end, each has found a novel way to express his or her undying love. “A Quiet Place” is much more than spine-tingling horror, as it turns heart-warming and tear-inducing at its culmination.
Without giving too much away, let me add that the resolution is not only satisfying, but plausible.
The film does an impressive job of keeping audiences riveted to a story, which has almost no dialogue or even a background score. Though primarily a haunting thriller, the movie is packed with action that builds at a frenetic pace and unfolds with nervous energy, pausing only briefly to advance the plot by way of passionate and crucial conversations which set up the next action sequence.
In addition to a bare-minimum usage of sound effects, the visual effects targeted believability rather than CGI-wonder, though even the effects’ understated visual splendor brings to mind the fascinating Hoberman Switch Pitch Balls (which remain a miracle of engineering available as two-bit toys.) Overall, I can not think of a major complaint.
The experience of “A Quiet Place” is remarkably satisfying even without concessions. You won’t really want to reach for your noisy popcorn and clanking iced beverage while you sit in a dead-silent, completely-invested theater, for fear that you will summon the monsters yourself.