REVIEW: A Quiet Place (2018)

In a world where grotesque, long-limbed monsters hunt their prey through sound alone, Lee and Evelyn Abbott, like the rest of the remaining population, have switched into survival mode.

Director/star John Krasinski, and his real wife Emily Blunt have an unmatched chemistry as the mother and father. Whilst their children, played by young deaf actress Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe and Cade Woodward all succeed in giving fantastically complex performances. As the film begins, tragedy falls almost immediately in an abandoned drug store, and so we follow the family as they trudge along to a new and safer location.

Every trail they make is covered with sand and they walk barefoot, in an effort to make as little noise as possible. The distinction between a 'big sound' and a 'small sound' in A Quiet Place is expertly established. A person can still get dressed in the morning, eat dinner and play Monopoly; just very very carefully. The first hour is almost silent and the family communicates with each other through sign language. This chilling choice makes the audience frightened to make a noise themselves, for fear they may put the characters in danger.

The sound design was also immensely impactful when it would switch to the perspective of their deaf daughter. When we are with her, we hear what she hears; nothing. The contrast here is when we are with the others; light footsteps, wind and rustling leaves are all staples of their surrounding sounds. As a monster approaches, supervising sound editors Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn, switch expertly between her point of view and her family's, switching simultaneously between the two soundscapes. This created an unprecedented level of tension and stress for the audience.

At the core of this tension-building monster movie is a question of family and sacrifice. Emily Blunt's Evelyn asks: "Who are we if we can't protect our children?"
The film offers a clear idea of nuclear family and traditional gender roles, Evelyn is almost always seen doing something 'motherly'; setting the table for dinner or doing laundry. She even waves goodbye to her husband and son as they head off to catch fish for dinner. Somehow this doesn't feel like a lesson or a telling of how it should be. It's just a loving family who organizes themselves to survive in this silent post-apocalyptic world, even if it is into pre-carved archetypes, it's what works for them.

Playing with genre and taking unexpected leaps, John Krasinski's directorial debut is a stunning exploration of sound and the lengths two parents would go to protect their family.

Originally published on Kettle Mag.