Silence is golden in outstanding creature feature ‘A Quiet Place’

A Quiet Place uses ambient sound to enhance its characters’ silence. Images courtesy Paramount Pictures.

9/10 I think I’d enjoy living in the world of A Quiet Place. Anybody who snores, snorts or eats popcorn one kernel at a time while chewing with her mouth open like a fucking animal has been brutally killed.

In the near future, humanity has been nearly wiped out after an invasion of feral aliens. Blindingly fast and completely bulletproof, the monsters cut through the population in a matter of weeks, but before society completely collapses, word breaks that the monsters are blind and completely reliant on their sense of hearing.

Already adjusted to their deaf firstborn daughter, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and with a patriarch who already tended toward survivalism in Lee (John Krasinski, who also writes and directs), the Abbott family was ideally placed to survive in this new world. But almost 500 days after the monsters’ arrival, Evelyn (Emily Blunt) is about to deliver their fourth child. A Quiet Place tells the story of their silent survival, and of the night they could remain silent no longer.

I first saw the trailer for A Quiet Place in a theater that was packed for the opening night of Justice League, and, entirely separately from that movie, it remains one of my most memorable moviegoing experiences. It went silent — dead silent — for what felt like ages, even with the tension only introduced late in the spot. It spoke to how effective the conceit is and how immediately and powerfully it draws viewers into the film. The effect is so primal the only thing they could really have done to screw it up was cheat.

Krasinski and company do more than just not cheat. After establishing their apocalypse  the film immediately poses some of the toughest challenges to leading a quiet life. Can you imagine how hard it must be to sob in complete silence, on pain of a swift and violent death? How about delivering a child?

A Quiet Place still uses a score, and I really wish it didn’t. Krasinski said he wanted viewers to have something to hold onto so they wouldn’t feel like they were part of a “silence experiment,” but it could have cut more out and still avoided that effect.

For authenticity, the film employs real-life deaf actress Millicent Simmonds.

When Krasinski re-worked the initial script by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck and cast Blunt, his wife of almost eight years with whom he has two young daughters, he set out to turn the creature feature into a metaphor for parenthood. With the plot device of Evelyn’s pregnancy, in a move just as subtle and brilliant as its primary premise, the film creates a situation in which the mere act of being a parent is one of defiance.

If children are the future and A Quiet Place is set after the end of the world, Evelyn’s pregnancy, as well as her’s and Lee’s continued efforts to raise their other children, presents a radical challenge to the status quo of the film. It is the center of both the fight for survival within its 90 minute confines, but also the fight for survival as a larger concept. They are preparing for the future in a world that has no future. Their fight to protect each other and their children from the monsters and the human race from extinction is a heroic one in two entirely different senses.

Before the invasion, the Abbotts had surely seen friends fall into alcoholism and homelessness. They’d seen a world dying of entropy and an economy that boomed and busted based on the tweets of a madman. Aside from the curious fact that they don’t eat their kills, the monsters aren’t intelligent enough to be evil. They’re wild animals, an invasive species yes, but simply a part of the world at this point. The Abbotts had children and dedicated themselves to making the world a better place for them to live despite the hardships of the 2010’s, and they view the hardships of their post-apocalyptic world no differently.

Though A Quiet Place remains very much a horror movie about parenthood, it is not about the vulnerabilities inherent in a pregnancy or being responsible for small children. The danger here is completely external. The film instead focuses on the courage and love implicit in overcoming those dangers and bringing new life into the world.

A Quiet Place is Krasinski’s third directing effort, but if you haven’t heard of the first two, no one could blame you. His largest release before this, The Hollars, debuted in 298 theaters.

A Quiet Place is opening this weekend in 3,508 to rave reviews and a probable box office windfall. The incredibly effective marketing and an overwhelmingly positive reception at the film’s South By Southwest premiere last month had it looking at taking no. 1 with around $35 million, and word of mouth keeps trending up. As of this writing, it’s looking at at least $45 million. Hopefully, demand for Krasinski as a director will increase appropriately.

Leopold Knopp is a UNT graduate and managing editor of The Lewisville Texan Journal. Like Reel Entropy on Facebook, follow it on Twitter and Instagram and support it on Patreon. You can reach me at reelentropy@gmail.com.

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One Response to Silence is golden in outstanding creature feature ‘A Quiet Place’

  1. Pingback: First good video game movie? First good video game movie! | Reel Entropy

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