“A Quiet Place” is a terrifying horror movie with great writing, and a lot of heart. No need for a monster in every scene. This movie gets screams by simply making a sound with a small toy. Blind aliens have invaded the planet, where they depend on their super-hearing to hunt for food. Even a small sound will summon the giant, fanged beasts from seemingly nowhere, and when they arrive, well, it’s not good. In the relative quiet of the movie theater, this absence of sound is especially eerie.
In the film, the Abbott family has managed to survive for almost a year and a half under these conditions, although not without occasional tragedy. Their longevity may be partially due to their ability to speak sign language, as their eldest child is deaf. John Krasinski, who also co-wrote, directed, and executive-produced the movie, plays the lead, Lee. Krasinski’s real-life wife, Emily Blunt, stars as Evelyn, matriarch of the family. They are supported by very talented child actors, including Millicent Simmonds as their deaf daughter, Regan.
The family has created many ways to stay safe, including softening the walkways with sand, painting marks on the floor to avoid creaks, and lining the walls of their basement to muffle the cries of the baby Evelyn will soon give birth to. Lee is seen in his workshop anxiously trying to create a hearing aid for Regan, so she can hear when she might be in danger.
They eat with their hands off lettuce leaves to avoid noise, and the kids have school lessons with mom using a wipe board and sign language. Other than the giant creatures that want to eat them, they seem to have it fairly well worked out.
It isn’t long until things start to unravel. Life gets noisy, and the monsters show up. Lee has sworn a vow to himself to protect his family at all costs, and is put to the test on multiple occasions. Regan’s inability to hear comes into central focus as the monsters close in, and it would be impossible to remain untouched by the family’s loyalty to one another as the film draws to a close.
There might be a joke about giving so much praise to the movie’s writing, considering how little dialogue there is, but it is what the characters don’t say that keeps the thrill and terror of the film on high from beginning to end. Through exceptional use of facial expressions, Krasinski and Blunt convey every gesture, conversation, and moment of terror and sorrow beautifully and effectively. Simmonds gave an incredible performance, showing her character’s unique struggle with naïve fearlessness, yet without speaking a single word.
“A Quiet Place” is a reminder that a horror movie can also be a good movie. Shot on location in upstate New York, the visual of a peaceful life in the country is the perfectly serene backdrop needed to underline the drama of the invasion. With no voiceover, and little chance to lean on dialogue to develop the plot, this film unspools its story graciously through its thoughtful camera work and exceptional physical acting. It is worth a second viewing, if only to appreciate the finer aspects with slightly less terror.