The tension filled, suspenseful film, “A Quiet Place,” centers on the Abbott family: the father, Lee, portrayed by three time Emmy nominee, John Krasinski (The Office); Lee’s wife, Evelyn, played by Golden Globe winner, Emily Blunt (Gideon’s Daughter), and their two children, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and Marcus (Noah Jupe). The family is living in a farmhouse, in a secluded area, in the woods of New York. Lacking any expositional back-story – other than a title card which reads ‘day 89’ – the reason for the Abbott family’s behavior is that the human population has seemingly been decimated, thanks to sharp jawed, alien-type creatures, who while not having the ability to see, have powerful claws, move exceptionally fast, and can hunt very effectively due to their extraordinary hearing. (As an aside: Millicent Simmonds communicates through sign-language, since a medication overdose left her deaf from the time of her infancy. In addition to playing a married couple on screen, Blunt and Krasinski are a real-life married couple. They wed in Como, Italy on July 10, 2010).
The aforementioned, regarding the creatures, is made known to the viewer through the use of newspaper clippings that are shown throughout the film’s 90 minute runtime. Further making the point of just how deadly the creatures are, and the imperative need for silence, is the opening scene of the film, where the family is gathering provisions at an abandoned supermarket. The Abbott family originally consisted of five members, but their son, Beau (Cade Woodward), thanks to noise made by a toy, incurs the wrath of the creatures during the opening minutes of the film. Beau had played with the toy at the store, only to have it removed from his grasp. He manages, however, to sneak it out of the store, but on the way home, while crossing a bridge, the toy makes noise, leading to his demise. After the tragedy with Beau ensues, the film moves ahead to over a year later, where a pregnant, Evelyn, is a short time away from giving birth.
As a viewer, knowing a bit about what the movie dealt with before watching it, I became more consumed with listening for sounds, than actually paying attention to what was being shown on the screen. For example, items that make noise, that no one would ever think could cause enough sound to become problematic, like pieces for the Monopoly board game have to be replaced by stitched together pieces, so the game can be played. The slightest noise, in the world the Abbott’s now live in, can be, as shown with the scene involving Beau, the difference between life and death. The family’s communication is relegated to mainly sign language and whispering, and their movements find them walking around barefoot, and on top of purposely placed trails of sand.
The newspaper clippings serve a dual purpose, they are there for more than just imparting a bit of knowledge to the viewer. Lee is using them as a means of trying to find out what can cause the creatures harm. He is a man who is willing to do whatever it takes to protect his family, and that includes his newborn, as he goes about constructing a soundproof bunker for Evelyn to give birth in. Additionally, the family is making efforts to contact other survivors of the creatures, by, for example, sending out S.O.S. messages using Morse code.
Despite being a box-office success, the film was made for an estimated budget of seventeen million dollars and has already grossed over one-hundred million, the movie does have its detractors. There are those who point to the film’s faulty logic. For example, the creatures have exceptional hearing abilities, but can’t for some reason, make out sounds made near a crashing waterfall. Additional critics of the film weren’t impressed by the use of what they felt were standard, horror jump scares brought to cinematic life by loud noise. The fact that viewers never learn where the creatures originated from – by what means they arrived on the planet – and why they have decided to wipe out humanity in the first place, also didn’t sit well with certain viewers; and that’s fine, everyone is entitled to their opinion. This film, in my opinion, is better enjoyed when it is just taken as it is. I know that the lack of explanation and the plot holes are present but to my way of thinking, this is not the sort of film that needs to be overanalyzed. The movie does, however, raise a few interesting questions for a viewer to ponder upon its conclusion: What would you do if placed in a similar predicament? How long do you think you could survive in a world where sound needs to become virtually non-existent in order to keep living?
“A Quiet Place” had its premier on March 9, 2018 at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas. In addition to co-starring in the film, John Krasinski, wrote the screenplay for the movie with Scott Beck (Haunt) and Bryan Woods (Her Summer), based on a story written by Beck and Woods. The movie is parts drama – horror – Sci-Fi and thriller. The film, while containing minimal gore, does have its fair share of intense moments that are bolstered by the score composed by two time Oscar nominee, Marco Beltrami (3:10 to Yuma). Due to the lack of a great deal of dialogue, the cast had to rely on displaying their emotions through what they convey with their eyes and facial gestures, and as a collective whole they more than delivered. Furthermore, the screenwriters created characters that weren’t merely fodder for the creatures to destroy, but people, that viewers could get invested in, and want to see survive.