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12 Apr 2018

Silence Is Needed: Logic Flaws Aside, 'A Quiet Place' Features Great Acting—and Lots of Scares

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John Krasinski and Noah Jupe in A Quiet Place. John Krasinski and Noah Jupe in A Quiet Place.

Noise-intolerant neighbors are taken to all-new levels in A Quiet Place, a new horror film from director John Krasinski.

Krasinski also stars as Lee, a father trying to protect his family in a post-apocalyptic world besieged by horrific aliens who will tear you apart if you make so much as a peep. The opening sequence shows Lee, wife Evelyn (Krasinski’s real-life wife, Emily Blunt, aka the next Mary Poppins) and three children taking a very quiet walk home from a drug store. One of them makes a sudden noise—and the results are pretty scary for a PG-13 movie.

The aliens are blind, so they hunt by sound—not, say, the sound of a river running or a bird chirping, but sounds that are more “interruptive,” like fireworks, a person screaming after stepping on a nail, etc. The gimmick lends itself to some faulty logic at times, but it does provide an interesting premise: If you speak audibly in relatively quiet surroundings, you will get your head bitten off. It’s as if everyday life is a hellish library where the penalty for gabbing or dropping something is death.

Krasinski’s film gives no real back-story about the aliens. A few glimpses of newspaper front pages share that the world has been wiped out by the species. One look at them (they are a cross between Ridley Scott’s aliens and the Cloverfield monster), and you know that just a few days with these things running around would decimate the population.

Blunt gives the film’s standout performance as somebody forced to keep quiet after not only a painful injury—but while giving birth in a bathtub while an alien claws nearby. It’s scenes like this, and one involving a crying baby in a flooded basement, that give Blunt a chance to call upon myriad facial expressions that will chill your blood. She pulls you into every moment with an earnestness that is real and relatable.

The film, Krasinski’s second as a director, shows true ingenuity behind the camera. He’s done well with family drama before (2016’s The Hollars was a good if little-noticed movie), but this one takes his directorial value into the stratosphere.

The monsters themselves are stellar CGI creations—a nice achievement, considering the movie was made on a relatively low budget. Charlotte Bruus Christensen provides excellent camerawork, while Marco Beltrami’s score actually offers something to listen to. The performers communicate mostly through sign language and whispering, which makes for a pretty quiet movie (unless you are watching the movie next door to an IMAX screening of Ready Player One—bad planning from the theater manager, I say).

Krasinski complements his directing chops with a fine performance as a guy doing everything to keep his sanity and protect his family, which includes a young deaf daughter (the superb Millicent Simmonds, who is actually deaf) and son (Noah Jupe, the little guy who broke your heart in Wonder). The kids are terrific, so Krasinski gets more kudos for casting. Did I mention he co-wrote the screenplay, too?

Apparently, there was some talk of making this a Cloverfield movie, but that got scrapped early in production. That’s a good thing, because this one stands on its own. Given it made a big pile of dough on its opening weekend, it’s a safe bet a sequel will get the green light. Lee observes signal fires from other survivors during the early part of the movie, so perhaps a story with another family could happen. I hope not; they should leave well enough alone.

While there are some “Yeah, right!” moments in which the screenplay’s own rules about the aliens are broken, there are far more sequences that are extremely well-done. Krasinski and Blunt combine for a movie that you won’t soon forget—one that will have you being a little quieter around the house after seeing it.

A Quiet Place is showing at theaters across the valley.

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