Move over, Pennywise. John Krasinski knows how to craft a horror-action film without the monotony. While I never thought last year’s It (Andy Muschietti) was “bad,” per say, I was annoyed to see the gears shift from terrifying horror to action so easily. The film lost its pace and just began to lack the thrills it began with. A Quiet Place, on the other hand, does not lose sight of the finish line, and ends perfectly before we’re given the same old boring action sequences we’ve seen in too many films of past. I realize focusing on the ending of a horror/thriller makes it seem like everything hinges on the last few minutes, but trust me, it doesn’t. A Quiet Place is bookended by a brilliant opening and a crowd-pleasing conclusion, with plenty of frightening, edge-of-your-seat sequences in the middle.
Centering on a family living in a post-apocalyptic world where monsters hunt things that make sound, Krasinski’s film doesn’t seek to fulfill a deep motive or speak for a grand cultural message. It is a life-affirming and family-positive thriller because that is all it needs to offer.
Krasinski is now a cinematic “everyman,” starring in and directing A Quiet Place, after springing forth from comedies like Away We Go (2009, Sam Mendes) and famously playing goofball Jim Halpert on NBC’s hit series The Office (2005-2013). He directs his real-life wife Emily Blunt in the film as well, and Blunt proves once again that she is one of Hollywood’s most underrated actresses. Sure she has found plenty of work in sci-fi (The Edge of Tomorrow, Looper, and The Adjustment Bureau) and heavy dramas (Sicario and The Girl on the Train), but her work has never garnered her an Oscar nomination, which she severely deserves. Nothing can stop her as a tour-de-force actress, and her excellent performance in A Quiet Place further solidifies that fact. I also want to praise child actress Millicent Simmonds, who plays one of Krasinski and Blunt’s children, and is deaf in real life, just as she is in the film. Her work showed incredible promise and emotional range, and is a shining example of inclusion for people with disabilities in cinema.
John Krasinski (far right) protects his children (Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds) in A Quiet Place.
Now back to Krasinski as a director: he too shows promise, as no one would expect the funny and lovable Jim Halpert to direct a horror film with such precise editing, framing, and lighting. My favorite scene takes place in a flooded basement where a single red light paints the scene with a foreshadowing of gore, and Blunt is forced to carefully sidestep a stalking monster. And though the film could have gone without its many cheap jump scares, it fulfills a major crowd-pleaser factor by having a short length (90 minutes) and using nearly every second perfectly. And I need to mention again how brilliant the opening and ending scenes are: the opening is an extended look at the quiet world, and demonstrates how bold the film will be, while the ending second is cinematic gold without being cliche.
I was surprised that A Quiet Place had a traditional musical score (composed by Marco Beltrami) considering it hinges so much on silence, but perhaps it kept the movie from delving too far into “avant-garde” or “artistic horror” territory. This movie is, for the most part, accessible. And the violence plays into that idea. There are devastating moments of course, but the gore faucet is stunted for the most part, which I find great. It’s not one of the horror films eager to rack up the body count and coat us in copious amounts of blood. It’s focused on the adrenaline.