How many people could really survive a day—or an hour—without making any noise? If life really depended on it, could people live their lives below a whisper? Most people probably don’t realize how much noise they make. Whether it’s setting down a glass on a table, flushing the toilet, or even walking on a hard surface, we all make noise inadvertently all of the time without consciously acknowledging it. A Quiet Place provides a fascinating look at a world where any noise above a whisper is a death sentence.
John Krasinski’s directorial debut begins a little more than 90 days into the apocalypse. The Abbott family of five works to stay alive in the newly-dangerous world. Horrific monsters have invaded earth, brutally killing anything that makes enough noise to be heard. These creatures are blind, but they are heavily-armored and have a highly discerned sense of hearing. Lee and Evelyn (Krasinski and Emily Blunt) guide their three children from the house to the pharmacy on a supply run for their oldest son, Marcus (Noah Jupe), who is sick and needs medicine. While the parents secure the area and search for antibiotics, Regan Abbott (Millicent Simmonds) looks out for her younger brother, Beau (Cade Woodward). As A Quiet Place changes perspectives between the characters, moving to Regan, the film silences itself. In a world where an awareness of sound is the difference between life and death, Regan is deaf. When A Quiet Place follows the other characters, we hear the background noise—the wind blowing through the trees, the rustle of clothes, breathing. Regan can only rely on her sight to alert her of danger, and the audience must follow suit.
In a movie with very few lines delivered through speech, A Quiet Place is championed by the mostly silent performances of the characters. The family signs to each other—which A Quiet Place translates with subtitles—and uses facial expressions, body language, and gestures to communicate. The amount of information and emotion that these actors convey is astounding. A Quiet Place is rife with weighty moments of heart and terrifyingly suspenseful scenes of anticipation—muscles tense and bodies cringe as the audiences waits for the inevitable horror. The film does use jump scares scattered sparsely throughout, but it doesn’t lean on them heavily. What’s really interesting about A Quiet Place are the “jump scares” from the point of view of Regan. There aren’t any loud and startling noises to make her and the audience leap in their seats. Instead, we can watch Regan, who can see but not hear, narrowly avoid stumbling into a murderous monster who can hear but not see.
A Quiet Place is also a very interesting experience to watch in theaters—aside from its high quality as a film. The movie is so quiet, it’s almost impossible not to hear every noise that comes not from the speakers, but from the other people in the theater. This is certainly interesting, but it’s also very annoying. The amount of noise that people make in the theater is usually not so distracting because the movies usually cover it up with loud dialogue or score. Not so in A Quiet Place. For this reason, you can hear all of the rustles of hands reaching into popcorn buckets, all of the shifts in seats, all of the quiet coughs. This is only exacerbated if there are talkers in the theater.
Yet, this seemingly annoying quality of the theater-going experience also might prove a boon for the movie. Seeing A Quiet Place in theaters for a first time provides the wide-screen horrific experience that A Quiet Place deserves. Watching it in theaters delivers the impact and the atmosphere in the best way it can be enjoyed. But, A Quiet Place should be watched a second time, at home. A second viewing allows return viewers to notice more of the tiny details of a noiseless world. It also allows viewers to watch A Quiet Place without the distraction of a theater audience. An entirely quiet viewing experience is what A Quiet Place deserves as the great movie it is.
Joining Get Out as another directorial debut horror movie from an actor who got their start in comedy, A Quiet Place is easily the best horror movie of 2018 yet. It is well-acted, well-written, and well-directed. The film struggles at times with the motivations behind “those big moments,” but none of this detracts from what the film aspires to and achieves.
Featured Image by Paramount Pictures