When the guy from “The Office” makes a horror movie.
What makes a scary horror film is sound production. A jump scare doesn’t make you jump unless there’s a loud “DUN” at the right moment, but it has to be justified for the story. If the jump scare is abused and happens too frequently, it isn’t scary. Sometimes, silence can be used to induce fear.
That’s what “A Quiet Place” is about, forced silence for the sake of survival.
A creature of some sort takes over New York and other major cities and kills any living thing that makes noise. A family must survive in this world silently to live another day.
Living in this post-apocalyptic world isn’t hard for this working farm family, who grows their own food and fishes for the seemingly, only surviving source of meat, since cows mooing would be the first to die by this creature.
Lee (John Krasinski) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) are loving parents that are determined to protect their children, including Evelyn’s unborn child.
The two children, Regan and Marcus, work with their parents for food and household chores in silence. Regan is deaf and doesn’t hear any small sounds. The whole family communicates by sign language, rarely having the chance to speak aloud.
The creature they hide from doesn’t have an origin or a story.
The story starts with these creatures roaming the Earth and seeking sound to kill the noise-maker. It’s a fast six-legged beast with sharp claws like a beetle or a spider. Its exoskeleton is black, shiny and bulletproof. The creature’s face doesn’t appear to have eyes, it rather has a face full of ear drums that picks up the faintest sounds from far away, surrounding a mouth full of jagged teeth like broken nails.
The family knows when the creature is close by its fast clicking sounds and the way it affects electricity, making lights flicker and disrupting T.V. signals.
It’s a mixture of the aliens in the movie “Alien” and a conglomerate of creepy bugs that shouldn’t be the size of a car or running super fast. It’s appearance is rare, but the looming fear makes these things terrifying.
What makes the movie effective is the sound production and the world built around the lack of sound.
The film opens in a quiet empty store where the family is raiding for medicine. The only food left at the store are chips, crackers and other snack foods that have noisy packaging. The family leaves the store on sandy paths to mute their footsteps that follows all the way to their farm. Their farm is soundproof, from the sandy pathways to egg carton walls to even felt pieces for Monopoly.
The movie is mostly in silence, with an occasional soft piano score, and it makes any noise disturbance sudden and jarring. The jump scares are met with loud music, but not all the time. Some of the sudden scares are completely silent and they are more scary than the screeching violin or loud “DUN.”
When the story shifts to Regan’s perspective, the movie is completely silent and it’s almost deafening. The most anxiety-ridden scene was when Evelyn goes into labor.
Earlier, she’s seen doing her own pediatric diagnostics and sound-proofing the baby crib with a soft lid to cover the coffin-like crib. After accidentally stepping on a nail and making a noise, Evelyn is forced to give birth by herself without screaming in agony as the creature lurks blindly in her house. She’s in labor for a long time as the creature slowly searches for a sound, not being able to see her in the bathtub, trying to give a silent birth as she’s still in pain from the nail in her foot.
Directed by actor John Krasinski, he gives the spotlight to his real-life wife Emily Blunt. Krasinski is the strong father figure who is determined to find the creature’s weakness and fix his daughter’s hearing aid.
Blunt is the loving and goofy mother, but is giving a chance to show her strength in her birth and fighting off the creature from her children after her birth.
This is not just a horror movie, but an apocalyptic movie. It’s a family that is trying to move on after a terrifying event.
It’s not easy living in silence when you can’t express every emotion and live your childhood in silence. It doesn’t offer a solution or a way to return to ‘normal’ life, silence is their lives.
As long as you have your family, you can live your life.