A Quiet Place
Directed by: John Krasinski
Starring: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski
A Quiet Place is truly a modern silent film.
In short, the world has gone quiet in the aftermath of an attack. The creatures responsible for the attack are blind and hunt their prey with incredible hearing. The family that the film focuses on has a deaf daughter named Regan. This means the entire family knew, prior to the attack, American Sign Language (ASL). This will be very important to basically the entire premise of the film.
There has been an increase of popular Hollywood films that have ASL in the recent years. The 2018 Best Picture was The Shape of Water, whose main characters could not speak and had to communicate in other ways. Baby Driver had several conversations in ASL between Baby and his foster father Joseph. A Quiet Place equally uses ASL as one of its primary modes of communication within the family. This new interest in other modes of communication is allowing new stories to be told while allowing old stories a renewal.
The films use of sound is key, as it jumps between different levels. The film starts out quiet but the audience can still hear the noise. However, when the film focuses on Regan and she turns off her cochlear implant, all noise cuts off. This is again shown with the creature’s hearing, where when noises that are normally unheard such as heartbeats are present, the creature will move towards the source of the noise.The theatre experience is unique. At some points, the loudest noise is the faint rustling of leaves. This absence of a soundtrack heightens the viewer’s awareness in the theatre. This means every sneeze and bag crinkle can be heard. This brings attention to ordinary actions that cause more noise than we think, like sitting down and reclining causes the chair to squeak, or phone chimes that normally would not be heard over a film’s sound are present. Even after leaving the theatre, a viewer may notice how loud the world truly is.
Horror has become synonymous with the slasher subgenre in recent years, and “slasher” is usually associated with B-rated stories. A Quiet Place takes the usual monster movie format and rolls with it. The plot is reminiscent of the dystopian video games The Last of Us or Telltale’s: The Walking Dead, where the creatures are significant, but the real story is about relationships and the choices that affect them. The film has a major component of family drama, but it does not become melodramatic or unrealistic. Newer horror films have refocused on the interpersonal dimension, and when they pull it off, as A Quiet Place does, it works flawlessly. A good mixture of family problems and panic driven action can make a film emotionally driven rather than being dictated by the scare factor.
As a horror film, A Quiet Place was simply decent. There is nothing groundbreaking apart from the use of sound. The story was excellently written and the right things have a payoff in the end; however, there are plenty of jumps scares, and the plot goes in the expected direction. The film is mainly worth seeing in theatres not for the scares, but for the use of sound in relation to the theatre-going experience.