By Bernardo Verdiguel,
John Krasinski has revived the increasingly stale horror genre with “A Quiet Place,” which takes a unique and refreshing approach to scaring the bejesus out of audiences.
Krasinski’s film follows a small family fighting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by strange monsters. Krasinski skips the typical how-it-happened intro that most post-apoc movies begin with, instead choosing to leave the monsters’ identities shrouded in mystery, and allowing the film to get straight to the point.
The very first thing audiences will notice in the theater is how quiet it is– Krasinski’s monsters are blind, and must locate their prey through sound, which means the key to survival is staying as quiet as possible: “Small sounds safe, big sounds not safe” Krasinski’s character Lee Abbott said to his son.
Krasinski’s monsters allow for him to use sound as a unique weapon against the audience. Whereas most movies today rely on a cacophony of sound to immerse their audience, “A Quiet Place” uses sound very selectively.
Krasinski is able to achieve a unique sense of suspense like this. The audience knows big sounds are not safe– but what exactly qualifies a big sound? A gas lamp dropped leaves the audience holding their breath, terrified that the characters may have been compromised by the sound.
A blend between survival and monster horror, “A Quiet Place” is up to par with classics of the genre, such as Ridley Scott’s “Alien” and Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later,” and may have even taken direct inspiration from them.
Like “28 Days Later,” Krasinski’s film skips the how-it-happened, opening on “Day 48,” and focusing more on the world as it is post-apocalyptic and less on the transition between pre and post apocalypse.
Krasinski also takes some cues from Scott’s classic “Alien.” Much like in “Alien,” Krasinski’s characters carry weapons, more for comfort than anything else. Scott’s Ellen Ripley carries a flamethrower despite having no concrete proof than it will really stop the Alien from attacking her.
Similarly, Lee Abbott carries a shotgun knowing full well that it probably will not stop one of the monsters–and even if it did, the sound is so loud that it would surely attract more.
The only downfall of “A Quiet Place” is its virtue. While Krasinski’s unique play on sound makes his film refreshing in an increasingly bland genre, it can also be a problem in a theater packed to the brim with people.
With everything so quiet, a poorly stifled sneeze will sound like a grenade going off in the theater, and can quickly kill the atmosphere Krasinski worked so hard to build up.
Not to mention the issue of dialogue– there are few moments where it is safe for the characters to actually speak aloud. This leaves them relying heavily on sign language, which leaves the audience relying heavily on subtitles.
For those who hate reading subtitles, this movie may get annoying fast.
However, for those who do not mind subtitles, this movie will keep you delightfully terrified. You will be on the edge of your seat from beginning to end, and when it is over you’ll decide to keep an eye on this John Krasinski– what other splendid surprises does he have hidden up his sleeve?