Pretty much since they became a couple film fans have been clamouring for an Emily Blunt-John Krasinski film. Wisely the couple did not just do the first rom-com that came their way. They bided their time until something cool and unexpected for them came along. They do play a couple here, but it most certainly is not a romantic comedy.
A Quiet Place is the directorial debut of Krasinski and he has begun his career behind the camera in a strong way. The film debuted earlier this year at Sundance and got rave reviews along with a 99% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes (that has leveled off to 95% as of the time I wrote this review). Fans were loving this clever horror which Krasinski also co-wrote.
The result is a film that is as tension-filled and scary as it is original. Originality is something that there is precious little of in today’s film world. When one comes along it is hard not to scream about it from the mountaintops. In a trim 90 minutes the film is able to tell a full story arc. Knowing that if it overstays its welcome the effect of the tension would diminish, Krasinski has eliminated all the unnecessary bits and bobs. All that remains is solid – acting, writing, camerawork, and even some special effects thrown in for good measure.
Most of the time as a critic you wince when you are sent to review a horror film. That is because there are precious few good ones made. Most of the time you are in for a world of pain and not because you are scared. When you have a film that claims to be a horror plus throws in aliens then it is usually a hard “no” for me. If I had stuck hard and fast to that rule here I would have missed out on a great film.
After having gone through a horrible loss, the Abbott family is dealing with their day to day lives as best they can. Silently. This is a post-apocalyptic world in which an alien species has taken over and they have rendered the world a silent one. Silent because they are blind, but will attack and kill anything that makes a sound. The result is that the Abbotts, Evelyn (Emily Blunt – Sherlock Gnomes, The Girl on the Train) and Lee (John Krasinski – from television’s The Office), and their two kids, Regan (Millicent Simmonds – Wonderstruck) – who is deaf – and Marcus (Noah Jupe – Wonder, Suburbicon), have been forced to communicate through sign language. Their whole lives are centered around surviving while not making any noise…easier said than done (you will see). Things become exponentially more difficult (if that is even possible) when we find out Evelyn is pregnant. How is that going to work out? Stay tuned!
The fact that through the first 20-30 minutes there is no noise (beware popcorn eaters!) really makes you focus in on what is happening. It really demands much of the actors as well. They have to convey much with their bodies and faces. Emotional investment is demanded of them all and the entire cast comes through with flying colours. Special props to Emily Blunt, who has to realistically give birth silently. The silence also really makes those rare moments there is noise or the characters speak that much more poignant. For instance, the scene where Evelyn and Lee slow dance to “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young (while listening to it via earbuds) is truly a moving moment.
Though this is a post-apocalyptic style film it does bring up many questions and issues that can be transferred to our lives. How desperate would you be as a parent to do anything to protect your children from harm? How can a family that has gone through an unspeakable tragedy remain a solid, functional unit? How guilt and grief can wreak havoc on a family. What can a mother do about a pregnancy that is not what is wished for? Krasinski et al. realize that to make us truly scared about what is going on onscreen we have to care about the family involved.