I’m a fan of the horror genre. Really, I am. However, as a fan of the horror genre, I’m willing to admit that the genre is always hit-or-miss. Whenever I spot a trailer for an upcoming horror movie, I typically roll my eyes and think, “is this going to be another cheap, jump-scare based cash grab?” When I saw the trailer for John Krasinski’s new movie (and the first he’s directed), A Quiet Place, I was wholly intrigued. A horror movie with minimal dialogue and a silence-based atmosphere? A Quiet Place leaps to new bounds in the horror genre through originality, clever direction, passionate acting, and ultimately, the intelligent method of displaying the presence of horrors other than the main antagonistic force.
The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic world that has a threatening power looming over it — monsters that, while blind, have an acute sense of hearing and are drawn to loud noises. The film focuses on a family of five that live in a rural area surrounded by three of the monsters. The family has developed clever ways of muffling their noises, such as laying sand on roads to avoid the noise of footsteps, or playing board games with dice made out of yarn. In every horror film, there are two ways of achieving the goal of scaring moviegoers: visual based scares and audio based scares. While the monsters definitely don’t account for the prettiest presence on the screen (Emily Blunt earns that right), the genius method behind A Quiet Place is its audio based scares. In a movie that is plagued by silence, every noise counts, and after every noise is made, viewers can’t help but feel uncomfortable, wondering if the monsters will soon follow after.
Being married in real life, it’s no surprise that John Krasinski and his co-star/wife Emily Blunt have such wonderful chemistry onscreen. The child actors are also phenomenal, acting primarily through sign language, body language, and facial expressions. Each gesture that’s made has emotion and expression behind it, not a single piece of dialogue and interaction is wasted. Krasinski didn’t waste any of A Quiet Place‘s $17 million budget either, as the monsters don’t look cheap or silly at all. The camerawork is superb, especially in scenes where the monsters are shown on camera. There’s several moments where the monsters are within close proximity of the family, but cannot attack them unless they make a noise. Being Krasinski’s first movie that he’s directed, I’m optimistic about his future as a filmmaker.
Although the typical post-apocalyptic survivalist theme has been done before in many horror films, A Quiet Place is anything but cliche, due to its unique pacing. The film is paced by a problem-and-solution flow — each scene features a specific problem that needs to be solved, and once the problem is solved, another problem soon follows suit. This pacing keeps the audience on the edge of their seats at all moments, and offers very little room to breathe or celebrate any type of victory for the protagonists. Every small detail in the movie has the potential to blow up into a major problem, whether it’s carrying a bag of laundry up the stairs or walking through a cornfield, feelings of relief are immediately offset with an intense pang of worry and paranoia.
The monsters may be the main antagonistic force on the screen, but as mentioned before, every detail counts, and every small detail can become a major problem within a matter of seconds. Because of the problem-and-solution pacing of the movie, the viewers begin to question every action done onscreen, including the actions of the protagonists. In some scenes, the monsters aren’t the main horrors, but rather, the irregular nature of trying to survive in a world in which one is not able to make any noise.
Overall, A Quiet Place boasts a terrific peak in the horror film genre, utilizing its ingenious method of paranoia to keep its viewers engaged at all times, and providing a sense of true horror and genuine acting that is unparalleled by almost every movie of its kind.