A Quiet Place

 

 

            This is the kind of movie that could easily be spoiled by nearby theatergoers.  It's very quiet, and to sustain the mood it relies on a very quiet audience.  Unfortunately, some folks insist on talking, or texting, or both.  Even trips to the concession stand will serve as distractions.  But a cooperative, attentive audience will enhance the experience greatly.

            They dive right in to the story.  “Day 89.”  Despite a lack of overdubbing narration, or even much dialogue, we figure out what's going on:  there's been some kind of takeover by ravenous creatures.  This one family is living in isolation, out in the countryside somewhere, and they mostly speak to each other in sign language.  Their daughter, Regan (Millicent Simmonds) is so deaf that not even devices with amplifiers attached to her head seem to help, so the whole family already knows how to communicate by signing.  And it's a good thing, because any kind of noise will attract the mysterious rabid beasts, whatever they are, or wherever they came from, and once they're on you, they destroy you quickly.

            The Dad, Lee (John Krasinski, who's also the Director), is constantly tinkering in his workshop, trying to find a device for Regan that will help her to hear anything.  The Mom, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), is resigned to doing the wash by hand (because the machines make noise).  They walk everywhere barefoot.  Lee has spread sand on the footpaths to further muffle the sound of their walking.  He feeds the family by fishing in the nearby river.  He brings his young son, Marcus (Noah Jupe), because here, at least, they can talk normally, even shout a little, because the constant noise of the rushing river and the nearby waterfall provide some auditory cover.

            The family, under constant stress and duress, is showing signs of the strain.  Regan, with her pubescent hormones, can get moody, and frustrated because she thinks her Dad favors Marcus.  (It's Marcus who finally talks to Dad about this, beside the raging river.)  Lee and Evelyn seem to love each other a lot, which helps them all to cope.  When Evelyn discovers she is pregnant, they worry not only about the noise of the delivery, but also the crying baby.

            A standard staple of the horror genre is to separate the characters so they have to deal with the crisis alone.  Somehow, the family members get separated, at night, of course, and have to rely on their own wits to survive, and not just each other.  But oftentimes the formulaic spine-tinglers will try to offset the mood with a little humor, or romance, or some other kind of lighter emotional dynamic, but not here.  The creepy factor is maintained throughout.  It's a sustained kind of tension that is rare for any movie.  Hopefully, your movie mates will co-operate enough for you to enjoy its harrowing uniqueness.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association