Samuel Knight, Reporter
Every so often a movie comes along which introduces a new subsection of a genre, and becomes a mold from which subsequent films are formed for years to come. “Indiana Jones” is commonly referred to as a classic action film, “Saving Private Ryan” as a defining war film, and “The Dark Knight” series as a ranking superhero film. The vision of “A Quiet Place” is analogous to the mark “Get Out” left on the horror genre.
John Krasinski plays Lee Abbott and Emily Blunt play his wife who are trying to find a way to exist in this world alongside their two children, with a third on the way. Set in a post-apocalyptic society in which blind monsters can only attack what they hear, the film is seen through the eyes of the family, who have to remain utterly silent throughout almost the entirety of the film. Horror movies tend to use noise to exaggerate fear, but this movie does totally the opposite, and in doing so gives the horror genre a new precedent to use for future films. “A Quiet Place” differs from other movies that use silence to build suspense because the silence revolves around the entire plot of the movie, not just in a few scenes.
What I found compelling about the plot was that the story of a family and its growth was told with almost no dialogue, their love portrayed through actions, not words. In the absence of speech, the family communicates through sign language. They had previously learned sign language because their daughter is deaf, which somewhat explains how they survived over a year in a world with virtually no one else left alive.
The plot is driven by (small spoilers ahead): the hardship that death can leave people with, the pregnancy of the wife throughout the film, and the experiences of the deaf daughter, who contrasts the
Much of the film focuses on the relationship between Krasinski’s character and his daughter, Beau Abbott, played by Cade Woodward. She believes that he holds her back from dangerous situations because of an accident that occurred earlier in the movie. In reality, he just wants to protect his family, which sometimes means holding his deaf daughter back from situations he knows she can’t handle.
The extraordinary devotion shown by Krasinski and Blunt’s characters to each other illustrates the power of a loving relationship to captivate an audience in a film where all else is stripped away. Granted, the same might not hold true for any movie or pair of actors — Krasinski and Blunt have been married since 2010 and share two children, and it shows in the convincing connection between their characters.
There were some plot holes that left me wondering why they had decided to bring a child into such a terrible world, but once I realized the meaning behind the pregnancy, the only obvious flaw I found in the film was the less-than-original portrayal of the monsters, which resemble creatures from other films and TV shows. However, they still had great graphics, and the emphasis on their advanced eardrums made it a visually horrific experience.
My favorite part of the film was the development of a sustained suspense. The noiselessness had me wincing at every step that seemed a little too loud, and every time the camera focused on the children, I braced myself for a slight slip-up to wreak havoc on the entire family. The tension built and built, and it was finally released at the cue of a lamp falling over or a word slipping out, sending characters and audience alike into a silent panic.
Another interesting component of the movie was the focus on the couple’s eldest child, their daughter, as a courageous character who wanted to help whenever she could despite her disability, which left her unknowing when the monsters crept right behind her. She felt unloved by her father and seemed desperate to please him, and so became a hero in the movie, showing strength against the monsters once she realized the capability of her hearing aid as a sonic weapon.
Despite a few holes in the plot, I was left blown away by the deep relationships between the characters and their power to enrich the plot. It was a new cinematic experience for me, and I started to see a future in film where the elements we normally rely on to guide us through the plot — dialogue, mood-modulating music and sound effects, etc. — are absent to make the experience more lifelike.
If I were to try to categorize this movie within a genre, I really couldn’t because there was so much room for analysis which left me jumping all over the place about what the motive of this film could be. “A Quiet Place” left me speechless long after viewing, and pondering the standard it will set for future films that test the abilities of fear within the horror genre.
4 out of 5 stars