Review: John Krasinski's 'A Quiet Place' is a Fine Addition to the Horror Renaissance
by Jeremy Kirk
April 6, 2018
There's been something of a horror-sance (a horror renaissance) at work so far in 2018. Never mind the fact that a horror film (The Shape of Water) won Best Picture at the Oscars, and another horror film (Get Out) was a very strong candidate for the trophy. The genre output so far in 2018 has been stellar with filmmakers delivering effective chills and believable characters through quality storytelling. In a nutshell, it's a good time to be a fan of horror cinema, and the good time continues with A Quiet Place. It has everything fans of the genre would want: likeable and well-written characters; decent pacing throughout; and, most importantly, an absolutely terrifying premise with equally scary moments. A Quiet Place is a monster movie that plays the sub-genre to a T, and shows once again there is still some art to be had in the horror genre.
Directed and co-written by John Krasinski, the film stars real-life couple Krasinski and Emily Blunt as parents defending their young children from the horrifying monsters that have been wreaking havoc on the planet. It's been over a year since the population of the Earth has been decimated by these strange and terrifying creatures, their point of origin left a mystery for the most part. Little is known about the creatures other than they possess extremely sensitive hearing that enables them to pick off our species with ease. Small pockets of humans survive the still-present creatures by following one, basic rule: don't make a sound.
The Abbott family (Krasinski and Blunt as the parents, Lee and Evelyn, along with Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe as their children, Regan and Marcus) is one, such group of survivors. Their oldest child, Regan, suffers from deafness, and the family's ability to communicate through sign language has given them a leg up in surviving the hunting skills of the creatures. Tragedy strikes early in the film, though, and the Abbott family must cope with their grief amidst the fight for survival. With Evelyn approaching the end of a pregnancy, the Abbott family must teach their children to survive this harsh, new world while proving to themselves that they can keep their children safe at any cost.
A Quiet Place is the third film directed by Krasinski after 2009's Brief Interviews With Hideous Men and 2016's The Hollars, but this latest effort seems like an introduction to the actor's true abilities behind the camera. Working from a screenplay and story initially conceived by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, Krasinski has a strong handle on the material and what pushes such effective scares to the heights of being a truly great film. There's a compassion for the characters despite the constant presence of terrifying dangers surrounding them. Krasinski, who took his own pass on the screenplay, utilizes the heart necessary for such compelling storytelling, and he does so with a solid grip on the horror film within which he is presenting it.
The eponymous quiet place is a farm in the country, the surrounding woods providing more than enough tricks on the viewer's eye that keeps the direction from which the next scare is going to come a constant mystery. The film plays tricks with both the visuals and auditory aspects throughout the film, all of which tie together to create a complete package of effective, genre elements. The creatures themselves boast a terrifying design, which Krasinski's directorial eye presents with absolute care. Much of the design is hidden by soft focus and atmospheric lighting, adding to the discomforting horror that makes the viewer grip the armrests of their seat in the way the very best of the genre is able to do.
Krasinski's handling in the direction is matched by his impressive performance in front of the camera. He gives the patriarch of the Abbott family as much quiet strength as he does compassion. Equally, Blunt gives her character the necessary qualities of a grieving mother still fighting for the protection of her loved ones. With very little in the way of traditional dialogue, the two still find a way of projecting both resilience and vulnerability while, at the same time, creating a strong bond between their two, respective characters. Everyone in A Quiet Place does superb work with their respective parts, Simmonds and Jupe giving very believable performances as the children thrust into this dangerous world.
With thrills on top of thrills, Krasinski's A Quiet Place would have been considered a successful, horror film in the scares department alone. The added bonus of a solid story being told via powerful direction pushes the film beyond the surface-level entertainment it could have rested on. A Quiet Place is yet another example of quality filmmakers elevating a genre that is all-too regularly utilized for its worst aspects. It's a phenomenal, horror film, and, in the wake of the impressive work the genre has offered up thus far this year, an excellent addition to the renaissance the genre appears to be going through. A Quiet Place is one horror film that fans of the genre will not want to stay silent about.