It’s hard to imagine a movie that would engross an audience to such a degree that they would make as little noise as possible while watching it. Amazingly, the low budget thriller/horror A Quiet Place manages to do just that (seriously, people weren’t even eating their popcorn!). And, as someone who loves silence in theaters, this was definitely my kind of movie.
The plot is straightforward: people are being hunted by sightless creatures that react to sound. Aside from newspaper headlines, you don’t get much more than that – no explanation for where the creatures are from (though they’re obviously alien), why they are trying to kill humans, how this all started or even a backstory on the family – but that’s ok. The entire point of the story is survival and, given how deserted things are, not many people have managed to make it through.
From the beginning of the movie you are surrounded by silence. It creates a constant tension as you anticipate noise and the repercussions. Even thinking there’s a possibility of accidentally making a sound has everyone holding their breath. Perhaps the worst anxiety comes when the movie focuses on the daughter, who happens to be deaf, and there is a complete vacuum as the audience “hears” things from her perspective. Because of all that silence, the jump scares feel bigger because any sudden sound is such a shock.
The acting in this film is impressive, especially when you consider how little real dialogue there is. The characters are quiet and careful, but constantly on edge. John Krasinski does well as the practical, protective father, but he’s outdone by Emily Blunt. Her portrayal of being in labor, knowing she and her almost born child are dead if she makes a sound is incredibly intense and exhausting to watch. And the actors portraying the kids are pretty amazing too – Noah Jupe exudes the fear of a confused young boy who just wants to stay hidden and Millicent Simmonds as a headstrong, guilt-ridden pre-teen is on the mark.
A Quiet Place is not a perfect movie, but it is a really good one. There are horror elements, but it falls more heavily in the sci-fi thriller category. Plus, it ignores the current trend of longer movies and keeps to a concise 90-minute range. Sure, a lot of people will just wait to see it once it’s streaming or on dvd, but I think it’s worth a trip to the theater to experience the effect is has on an audience.