A QUIET PLACE ★★★★★ out of 5 Cast: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds Director: John Krasinski Duration: 1h30m
The general rule in horror movies is that things always get very quiet before something horrible happens. So how does it work if it’s quiet all the time?
It works magnificently in A Quiet Place, directed by John Krasinski and starring him and his wife, Emily Blunt. They play a married couple living in a postapocalyptic world that has one rule to keep you alive: Shhh.
We’re thrown into things on “Day 89,” the onscreen title tells us, and left to piece together what’s going on. But the screenplay, by Krasinski and horror writers Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, never leaves us in the dark for long.
It’s immediately obvious that the family has to be quiet. The reason why comes in the form of a headline screaming from what I’m guessing was the final edition of The New York Post. And a possible way out tiptoes into the picture about halfway through its 90 minutes, making you want to shout at the screen for the characters to notice it too. But shouting would be unwise.
There’s also some delicious tension. Early in the film, a pair of AA batteries signals a catastrophe waiting to happen. Later, a rusty nail will loom larger than the snow globe in Citizen Kane, or the Maltese falcon in that other old movie.
After the opening credits, we’re suddenly a year and a bit later: Day 472 if you’re keeping score. The family — I don’t think we ever hear their names — is living on a farm, where they grow corn (the silent grain?) and play Monopoly with fuzzy felt tokens. (So many other games are out — Trouble, Uno, Boggle, Operation, KerPlunk.) Communication is aided by the fact that the daughter (Millicent Simmonds) is deaf, so everyone knows sign language.
But the family is about to get bigger. Blunt’s character is clearly pregnant and, regardless of what you may have heard, newborns are notoriously noisy, as is the act of having them.
This seems a good place to mention the monsters. No one knows where they came from, but they clearly have some DNA from Ridley Scott’s Alien, although that’s true of almost every beast of the past 40 years. They’re leggier with heads like overripe melons. And they can hear better than your kids in the next bedroom. Scary, I know.
Family-affair movies can feel like vanity projects — see Guy Ritchie’s Swept Away, or Will and Jaden Smith in After Earth — but about the worst you can say about this one is: Great chemistry between the leads? Well of course: They’ve had 10 years and two children together to build it!
There are some lovely moments as well between Simmonds and her movie brother (Noah Jupe), one of whom is carrying a load of guilt on tiny shoulders. Let’s hope they know how to suffer in silence.
And the film is a technical triumph, too. Cinematography is by Denmark’s Charlotte Bruus Christensen, who knows exactly how to direct your gaze to where it’s needed — unless, like me, you are watching much of the movie through spread fingers. And Marco Beltrami’s score is not only beautiful but essential in a film with so little spoken dialogue.
Finally, let us turn back to Krasinski, who doesn’t just direct the film — he conducts it. A Quiet Place joins Get Out, It Follows, The Babadook and The Cabin in the Woods as one of the great horror movies of the past decade. It’s one of the best “silent movies” of the past hundred years. And it has such a fantastic ending that I wanted to dive back in just to experience again the way it sneaks up on us. Silently. Of course.