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Released: 6th April 2018 (UK and United States)
Length: 95 Minutes
Director: John Krasinski
Starring: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe
Horror films are often cheaper to make and easier to make a profit on; but when a more unique outing comes to theatres, audiences are quick to notice. Marking his third directorial production, John Krasinski has surprised everyone with his best film to date, a horror film to rival the best in the current decade.
The film is a post-apocalyptic thriller that makes use of minimal exposition and background information, following a family of four played by John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe. It starts you off with one simple rule; don’t make any noise, something immediately established by the character’s lack of shoes, heavy use of sign language and need to keep any loud toys away from the children. The prologue serves as a catalyst for both the Abbott family and the terrifying situation they find themselves in. From here, it transfers to a deserted countryside and homestead; a beautiful setting made deadly by something out in the woods. The use of suspense is brilliant, with moments layered throughout the narrative set to pay off in the most heart-stopping ways; it’s a page right out of Hitchcock’s playbook, where a figurative bomb is about to go off and the characters in the film don’t know about it. Even with all its frightening moments, there’s still plenty of time given to the four family members, showing their inner struggles and the close bond they have to one another. The plot’s other great strength is how it never explains the post-apocalyptic landscape depicted; you can piece together what happened to other people yourselves, which further reinforces why this family has survived. It’s truly excellent storytelling all-around.
The cast may be small but A Quiet Place more than makes the most out of it. You really feel this family is close, despite them hardly uttering a word to each other throughout the film. With the film mostly cutting dialogue out of the proceedings, the moments where the actors do use their voices are often powerfully visceral; the strains the characters go through to remain silent only adds to the tension. A moment involving Emily Blunt’s character and a sealed bathroom is particularly nerve-wreaking. On the other hand, the filmmakers went the extra mile by casting Millicent Simmonds, who is deaf in real life. The interactions she has with both the other characters are excellently portrayed through facial expressions and overall all four performances are extremely well-realised, capturing both terror and heartfelt ties in equal measure.
A Quiet Place is also conservative with its presentation; computer effects are used sparingly throughout the film to create the antagonists of the film (which I won’t speak of for fear of spoilers) but for the most part, the film has a very natural look and feel to it. The boundaries and components of the farm are well defined through a wide variety of shots and when the tension heats up, the camera is placed at all the right angles to deliver its biggest shocks. The music is mainly ambient to give off a strong atmosphere, before eventually rising to fit the mood. Yet it’s the sound design that makes the largest impact; because the film is so reliant on silence, any loud noise that does crop up feels incredibly jarring, pulling the audience into the moment while also serving as trigger points of tension. It’s a minimal method of filmmaking, yet still highly effective in creeping out the viewer at every turn.
Taking both its inspiration and lessons from all the right contemporaries, A Quiet Place is a phenomenally effective horror film, one which manages to frighten its audience while still delivering great depth with next to no clichés, intrusive dialogue or moments wasted. It’s also one of the rare horror films with a real heart to its performance, drawing you into the characters and their plight; I can’t recommend it enough, even if you normally steer clear of the genre.
Rating: 5/5 Stars (Exceptional)