The most unsettling thing about A Quiet Place, the new movie from triple-threat John Krasinski (who co-wrote, directed and stars) is that the lack of noise throughout made me really self-conscious about eating popcorn (and chewing ice). Actually, that’s not really true. While the movie itself is rather soft and unobtrusive, it does such an amazing job at creating interminable tension (a loose nail here, slow-moving monsters there) that the anxiety-inducing audibility of popcorn chewing was barely top 5. I can’t think of a recent movie so good at exploiting the audiences own uncomfortableness since 10 Cloverfield Lane, which is mildly interesting since A Quiet Place could’ve easily slotted into the Cloverfield mythos.
Krasinski is Lee, the patriarch of a family who live on a farm on the outskirts of an abandoned town. His real-life wife Emily Blunt plays his pregnant wife Evelyn. Recent discoveries Noah Jupe (Wonder, Suburbicon) and Millicent Simmonds (Wonderstruck) are their kids. The tight family unit trudge barefoot throughout their home and town careful not to make too loud a sound, lest they face the wrath of the (at least) three vicious and lethal creatures in their vicinity. While the family has a comfortable shorthand in dealing with each other and the world around them, they naturally find themselves under attack from the alien beings.
It’s hard to discuss plot because really not a whole lot happens. And that’s not a dig. The slow-moving pace at the front makes the overwhelming tension in the rest of the movie even more palpable. I was squirming and gripping my seat throughout. The family dynamics are so firmly drawn and explored that it adds a weight to what would otherwise be another monster flick. There’s some true emotional weight to some of the scenes and with barely any words spoken throughout, there’s a very clear understanding of the story, the characters and their dynamics.
Krasinski is an adept director that handles the nuances of the film wonderfully. Sure, there are some things that just don’t make sense and aren’t worth spending too much time thinking about. But there are several sequences that are masterfully handled, most notably the section where Blunt’s character faces that lone nail, and her circumstances spiral out of control from there. Blunt actually does the bulk of the lifting with the character moments, carrying so much subtext in her weary eyes, but the entire family unit feels believable as relatives, and both kids are amazing actors that manage to do a lot with little dialogue and actual movement.
It’s been a week since I actually saw the movie and it still has stuck with me. It’s a fairly unique film with an intriguing execution and solid performances.
My Grade – B+