A Quiet Place (2018)
Rarely have I sat in a cinema with such a reverent silence from fellow patrons as that I experienced whilst watching John Krasinski’s nail-biting suspenser.
The set-up is simple enough. A post-apocalyptic scenario whereby a family are trying to survive without making any sounds which will attract the aural predatory attentions of alien creatures which hunt through their hyper-sensitive hearing.
The three aces up director and co-star Kransinski’s sleeve are firstly the assured handling of sound (and often the lack of). Secondly, the careful measured portrayal of the family dynamic, mostly sketched through sign-language with only a minimal amount of spoken dialogue (ironically delivering more rounded characters than we are usually graced with in horror films). And thirdly, the heightened sense of scripted peril and the near-forensic attention to the little details all finely attuned to ring out every last potential drop of suspense and perceived danger.
Alongside Kransinski, his real-life wife Emily Blunt plays the mother, who brilliantly and near-silently sells excruciatingly toe-cringing suffering in sequences such as the upwardly protruding nail in the barefoot and the enforced bloodied bathtub entrapment. Her eldest child is her daughter, superbly played by Millicent Simmonds. Both character and actress are deaf. It’s a pivotal role, refreshingly notn one-dimensional, and Simmonds delivers a brilliant performance of both strength and vulnerability which provides the core around which the entire family are intertwined. Her younger brother is essayed by Noah Jupe, who also pitches in with a sympathetic portrayal of a (naturally) scared kid, desperately trying to suppress his fears to his father.
The bottom line is we care about these characters, which makes their predicament far more engaging and involving, and my (often) clenched knuckles were all the more whiter as a result.
Yes there are a couple of loud jump-scares liable to induce abrupt unintentional redistributions of popcorn into laps, but they are well-earned, and justifiable within the context of the film’s premise.
The creature design is excellent, coyly introduced at first with quick blurred glimpses before ratcheting up to shredding claws and finally to hideously full-bodied reveals. Onscreen gore and blood is judiciously employed minimally to convey internal trauma and suffering, and in one brief moment the aftermath consequence of creature assault. But it’s the startlingly assured deployment of audio threat which is the real trick which draws you in and keeps you hooked in nervous unity with the onscreen characters.
A Quiet Place is a film worth shouting about.