While I was a fan of “The Office,” I worried that I’d never be able to watch John Krasinski in anything else without imagining him doing the “Jim face” and looking directly at the camera. That’s the downside of playing such a loveable character for so long, it becomes exceptionally hard to severe the association between an actor and role. “13 Hours” started to finally shake that image of Jim for me, but it wasn’t until “A Quiet Place” that I got to see John Krasinski escape that shadow.
In “A Quiet Place” the world is ravaged by unstoppable creatures that hunt by using sound. Lee (John Krasinski), his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt), and their children have taken up a life of complete silence in order to try and remain unnoticed by the creatures. By using sign language and cleverly thought out procedures to limit sound, the family has managed to etch out a peaceful life amidst all of the chaos.
Not only does John Krasinski star in “A Quiet Place,” but he also co-wrote it with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck and directed it, so the success and failure of this project would fall mostly on his shoulders. Thankfully, Krasinski knocked it out of the park in every area of his involvement. As far as the story goes, Krasinski found an excellent partnership with Beck and Woods as the trio deliver a story that is supremely intense and has a lot of emotional punch to it. While the family is dealing with this crazy alien threat, they’re also grappling with personal family drama as they try to recover from a severe emotional trauma. It’s heartfelt and remains completely believable while existing in front of this backdrop of an alien invasion.
Meanwhile, as a director Krasinski makes some brilliant choices with this film. Most notably with his audio decisions. The majority of the movie delivers its dialog through sign language, but that limitation only serves to highlight the acting talents of everyone involved. As complex emotions are expressed not only through simple hand gestures, but subtle and deliberate emotive expressions. And the movie uses a musical score sparingly so as to highlight how loud even the softest sounds are. Its an effect that knotted up my stomach as I started to become very aware of all the little sounds happening in the movie and in my theater. I wanted to start shushing not only people around, but the characters on screen. And when there is sound in the film it’s usually loud, powerful, and terrifying.
That being said, “A Quiet Place” is rife with jump scares. Really, this is the perfect setting for that type of scare tactic as the movie trains you think that any sort of sound can mean horrific death. So just the loud sound of a cup falling will make you jolt as you know something terrible is seconds away from happening. However, I think “A Quiet Place” is mostly smart about how it uses those tactics and it’s definitely not a crutch as the film derives most of its tension from silence.
But the horror in this film wouldn’t work as well as it does without the emotional strength of the family. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt are married in real life, so this might be weird to say, but they have great chemistry together in this. Now, before you say “duh”, there have been other couples that worked together and fell flat (J.Lo and Ben Affleck). Their attachment and love really shines through in this movie and they earnestly reflect that to their fake children. It would be easy to believe everyone in this movie was actually a family. And speaking of the kids, I have to say that Millicent Simmonds does an amazing job as she plays their deaf daughter who never speaks and is forced to completely emote through sign language and expressions. That’s a hell of a challenge for a regular actor let alone a child actress and she does an excellent job. Noah Jupe also does an admirable job as her brother by portraying a more sensitive and reserved character.
“A Quiet Place” is unique not only for a horror film, but for a movie as a whole, thanks to the way it handles the concept of sound and the lack thereof. It’s also a beautiful blend of nerve wracking horror and family drama that hits close to the heart. This is a must see for horror fans and should not be missed by anyone else. “A Quiet Place” is in theaters now.