John Krasinski directs and stars with his wife Emily Blunt in this exceptional horror movie about a family trying to survive against predatory monsters who hunt by sound. The film is a terrific example of visual storytelling as the dialogue is suppressed to a minimum by the danger it represents to the survivors. It is also one of the most effective and high-tension suspense movies I’ve ever seen, with more intelligence and emotional power than are typical of the genre.
The story begins several months after some sort of invasion by ill-defined, poorly understood but immensely superior predators which have effectively wiped out the human race. Those who have managed to survive have had to adapt to a virtually silent mode of living, walking barefoot everywhere, for example, or communicating by sign language. The eldest daughter, played by Millicent Simmonds, is indeed deaf herself, and the film uses its sound design very effectively to convey point of view of characters according to the ambient noise, so that we hear the wind in the trees unless we are experiencing her point of view, in which case we get silence.
The ticking time bomb of the story is Emily Blunt’s pregnancy, for as we all know giving birth is not a quiet activity, nor are babies themselves prone to being silent. The sequence of events leading up to the birth are brilliantly plotted as the baby arrives earlier than expected, and the monsters are quick to respond, while the family members are variously separated from one another, trying to reunite. I would say that pretty much the entire second half of the movie is one long endurance test for your nerves watching the characters try to navigate the awful (and steadily worsening) situation which never once cheats or opts out of the high stakes the film set up all along. I have one minor quibble regarding the sequence, but I don’t want to spoil the movie and it certainly did not detract from my enjoyment of the film as a whole.
A Quiet Place is the first great movie of 2018, in my opinion. It has a simple concept that is intelligently worked out to the maximum of its potential, both in terms of story logic and visceral thrills, all of which are very capably delivered. The cast is tiny but all of the actors, adult and child, give strong performances that really make you empathize with their plight. The film has an exceptional amount of heart and soul such that it is surprisingly moving in places. I am very impressed and I highly recommend this movie, even if you’re not a horror fan, because it is so much better than it needed to be.