John Krasinski’s ‘A Quiet Place’ uses its silence to its advantage

In Arts & Entertainment, Film & TV, Lifestyle, Reviews
Emily Abbott in the bathtub looking scared.
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

The unsettling burden of the fear of silence plagues the screen immediately in “A Quiet Place.” A resounding anxiety echoes as careful steps are established as a mean for survival, and any preceding sudden sound is a frightening yet effective stab at the senses that pierces straight to viewers.

The film follows the Abbott family, who are forced to live in a hushed isolation because of a lurking threat that slaughters anything making a sound. The family speaks in sign language to one another and tiptoe in a desperate attempt to exist in the desolate world.

“A Quiet Place” is both incredibly well crafted and nerve-wracking, using silence to make sharp cinematic choices, which make its lack of dialogue an advantage. A combination of its sudden hook into the terrifying consequences of the film with an engagingly profound message about family makes it a highly-entertaining movie that will likely be talked about for some time.

The unique situation that befalls the Abbott family sends thoughts fluttering as to how a society, or a single family, could function with the absence of sound. In their lonely town, the Abbott’s quietly work around things often taken for granted, with even the simple luxury of a much-needed therapeutic cry after a sudden sting of pain being treated as a threat to them.

John Krasinski, who stars in, directed and has writing credits for “A Quiet Place,” surpasses expectations in his first run-in with horror, establishing himself as a serious filmmaker. He even garnered Stephen King’s seal of approval who called the film “an extraordinary piece of work” on Twitter.

Krasinski is still known primarily as Jim Halpert from “The Office,” where flashes of empathetic expressions straight into the camera to counteract the series’ cringey moments became iconic. In “A Quiet Place,” he is similarly able to gain sympathy through the weight he holds in each expression and finds strength in his charismatic nature without the need for constant dialogue to carry the film.

Emily Blunt’s on-screen magnetism similarly fills the silence amid the added tension of her character being an expecting mother. She leads some of the most stressful sequences and easily brings the audience to her side.

Together, real-life couple Krasinski and Blunt anchor the film’s emotion as parents to their young children (Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe) who try to stay composed in the dire situation their family is faced in. The couple’s frantic need to protect their family from the forces against them brings a heartfelt center to a silently terrifying film, bringing a necessary depth often absent in characters of the horror genre.

Additionally, when a deaf character was written into the script, Krasinski pushed for 14-year-old Simmonds, a deaf actress, to play the role of his daughter. This aspect of the film brought needed inclusion of the deaf community in an industry where disabled characters are usually played by the able-bodied.

“A Quiet Place” keeps the audience’s attention for the entire hour and 30 minutes and doesn’t waste any time. Gasps at jump scares and popcorn chomps seem to be more audible than usual during moments of anticipation from the impending threat, making it a perfect movie to watch in theaters. The audience may also feel the need to hold their tongue to match the silent tone of the film.

The movie gradually reveals the plot’s developments masterfully through its visuals and the ongoing suspense that also benefits from the unsettling long periods of silence waiting to be disrupted by a slipup or the sudden drop of a beat from the score.

The conclusion of Krasinski’s film serves as a reminder of the effectiveness of seeing through a simple storyline and giving time to developed characters, while also being immensely entertaining.

“A Quiet Place” makes stress uniquely entertaining, and prolonged silences particularly horrifying with a satisfying payoff that is a fun watch even for those who are usually opposed to the horror genre.

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