Silence is Golden (Film Review: “A Quiet Place”)

In a post apocalyptic world in which humans are hunted by their sound, one family struggles to survive in silence, against a countdown clock to the inevitable.

SnapShot Plot

The unsettling and suspenseful A Quiet Place begins in a not too distant apocalyptic future, on Day 89 of a never-ending nightmare in which the world has been overtaken by a blind species with ultra sensitive hearing. The ‘Creatures’ (as they’re referred to in newspaper headlines from some vague point in the past) hunt humans not by sight but rather by sound.

John Krasinski and Emily Blunt deliver shattering performances as the parents of three young children, two little boys and their deaf older sister (played with emotional gravitas by Millicent Simmonds of Wonderstruck fame). While scavenging for supplies in a nearby deserted town, their youngest child makes an innocently mischievous mistake which brings deadly consequences to his family. The action jumps forward almost two years to their survivalist existence, living on an abandoned rural farmstead rigged with all manner of homemade warning devices and triggers, struggling to maintain some sense of normality while never making a sound. They communicate in American Sign Language, play Monopoly with homespun cloth pieces, sprinkle sand along walking paths to muffle the sounds of their bare feet, pad everything they can with towels and blankets, and light small fires on the roof of their grain silo at night, a way the few people around them signal that they’re still alive. Very infrequently they are able to steal a chance to speak with their voices and only when the ambient sounds of Nature drown out the sound of human speech or movement, such as a fast-running river or waterfall. It’s not a life, though, and this knowledge (and the ever present fear of discovery) seems to seep into every element of the family’s daily world, eroding any possibility of joyful abandon and instead promising only a grim resolve to make it to the next profoundly silent day. But as much suffering and repression as their present circumstances inflict on them, something else is on the way which will spell a blessing or a curse, from which there is no turning back.

Parting Shot

Co-written, directed by and starring John Krasinski, who cast his real-life wife, the exceptional Emily Blunt to co-star, A Quiet Place is a study in suffering. They say that the test of a good film is to screen it with the audio turned off, and see if it still tells a good story. Only two scenes in this film were shot in ‘real’ dialogue, with the rest of the quite spare script done in sign language. But all you need to do is watch the faces on every member of this family to receive an almost visceral gut punch of fear, sadness and courage as they face an almost insurmountable foe.

Krasinski, who is fast becoming one of America’s most beloved actors of his generation, holds this film in exceptionally sure hands, patiently laying out a tableaux of human interconnections, showing in the smallest of moments the keen and intimate dependencies within the family dynamic, and slowly yet inexorably building a sense of suspense that becomes nerve rattling until the final exhilarating yet tragic climax. With an insistently somber yet powerful score by renowned composer, Marco Beltrami and an early Fall saturated color palette that seems to tease the characters for so many resplendent experiences they’re not allowed to enjoy, A Quiet Place speaks directly to the heart. Which is pretty hallowed ground for a horror film; it’s silence speaks volumes.

A Quiet Place is presently streaming on Amazon Prime.

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YouTube Trailer:

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