Bob Foster

A QUIET PLACE is a lean and terrifying experience [REVIEW]

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A Quiet Place

Directed by: John Krasinski

Screenplay by: Bryan Woods & Scott Beck and John Krasinski

Story by: Bryan Woods & Scott Beck

Starring: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmons

Production companies: Platinum Dunes

Distributed by: Paramount

Release date April 6, 2018

Running time 90 Minutes

Rated PG-13 for terror and some bloody images.

 

Shhh. Quiet. Make any noise and they’ll kill you. What are they? Where do they come from? It doesn’t matter. It only matter that they will kill you. Our family just needs to survive tonight.

The basic need of survival is the crux of the simple, tight elegance of director/co-writer/star John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place.  This may be Krasinski’s third film, after 2016’s The Hollars and 2009’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (and 3 episodes of The Office), but A Quiet Place will no doubt put him on the map as filmmaker, and not just “Jim from the Office.”  With story creators and co-writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, Krasinski builds a tight, lean screenplay and film that delivers.

Nary a moment is wasted.  The first thirty minutes are well used to world- and character-build.  The stakes and rules of the world are quickly established. It’s all too impressive this is done with little direct exposition. This is a nearly silent world, The details to the hows, whats and whos are presented without explanation, allowing the audience to fill in the gaps; or for those wanting backstory, by reading the walls and details. We don’t need these characters to tell us what they already know: their lives teeter on the edge of death with a single mistake.

After this well-designed first act, the remaining 54 minutes before credits roll depict the night it all comes crashing down. Once this begins, the tension never ratchets down, building into increasingly terrifying sequences. Unrelenting horror requires a steady hand. Too much and the audience can be drawn out when the suspension breaks. This doesn’t happen, each sequence flows and builds to the next.  Krasinski has evidently studied Jurassic Park as there is much Dino-D-N-A (you said that like Mr DNA didn’t’ you?) in the scare sequences. The homage is direct, but effective. The danger is present and real. No character feels like they have plot armor; strengthen to how well each is performed.

Led by real-life couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, the family unit has incredible chemistry. Krasinki and Blunt bring pathos with extreme guilt. How will they survive, are they doing the right things to protect? How long can this last? Each of these questions burns from their eyes. While the son, Noah Jupe as grand, the standout is the Millicent Simmonds as the deaf daughter.  Some may state stunt casting for an actual deaf girl, but there is no gimmick in it for the film itself. She shines. With a few others, this makes a cast of seven. All that’s needed.

Much of why the film works is on Cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen. The damped, darkened farm and woods ooze unease, with each still frame ready to burst while awaiting the monsters and frightening as all when they come. Of course, a film about silence and safety must have great sound design. From the unsettlingly quiet,to the shock of sudden noise; the film also makes great use of deafness and the sound use related to it akin to Mike Flanagan’s excellent Hush.  Combine this with a well done and fitting score by Marco Beltrami (although sometimes it’s a bit too on the nose), it all adds to a great film.

A Quiet Place is economic horror storytelling at its best. Tense, taut, and terrifying it’s everything it should be and nothing it should not. Highly recommended.

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