Let’s face it. It can be really entertaining to imagine what the apocalypse is going to look like, especially as we grow closer to it with each passing day. In “A Quiet Place,” John Krasinski’s directorial debut, audiences find themselves submerged in a soundless dystopian farm landscape, a dead place devoid of human intervention, save for the Abbott family. This film draws the viewer in and keeps them in for the entirety of its 1 hour and 30 minute runtime.
Much of my own personal anticipation for this movie was rooted in the fact that parts of it were filmed in New Paltz, specifically at the Rail Trail. I was super disappointed by how little Rail Trail there was, but I’m still really glad I saw the movie because, WHOA. Spoilers may be contained herein.
John Krasinski (Jim from “The Office”) co-wrote and directed the movie and stars as Lee Abbott, a glorious, bearded post-apocalyptic dad determined to create a home for his family despite exceedingly difficult circumstances. Krasinski appears alongside Emily Blunt, his on-screen and off-screen wife, as the two struggle to keep their growing family safe in a dystopian world populated by freaky, people-eating monsters.
This particular movie throws audiences for a curve, in that unlike traditional horror movie monsters, these creatures are blind and hunt only by sound. This twist creates the perfect premise for a movie full of jump scares, and has you on the edge of your seat from the start. Krasinski brings us into this cleverly temperate post-apocalyptic world with ease by focusing solely on the story of this family, the Abbotts.
One particularly heart-wrenching aspect of the plot is the father-daughter relationship between Krasinski’s character, Lee Abbott (not that their names ever become important, since there’s no talking and the Abbott family members are the only people in the movie) and his daughter Regan Abbott (played by Millicent Simmons). Simmons’ character, the Abbott’s oldest child, is in some ways the film’s antagonist, as she often unintentionally drawing the sound monsters closer by taking risks and disobeying her parents.
Lee Abbott is very much the typical post-apocalyptic movie dad, and is very much a bearded He-Man, and the film crew surely wanted the audience to know how built he is. This guy is a UNIT. We are treated to see the ebb and flow of his relationships with his kids and the love that he shares with his wife, as well as his superior pecs.
Emily Blunt’s performance as Evelyn Abbott was unsurprisingly glorious; Evelyn is a tender and devoted mother, and a total badass in her own right. Personally, I’d really hate to be pregnant in a silent world filled with people-eating monsters, but she makes it look like a piece of cake. One of the greatest things I took away from this movie is how awesome moms are, but we already knew that.
“A Quiet Place” forces the viewer to do the work, but the work isn’t difficult. The complete lack of dialogue, except perhaps two or three scenes, makes us gather all the information from visual context clues. This technique also jolts the viewer into paying better attention to what’s going on on screen.
One of the admittedly few problems with this movie is how picturesque it is, particularly with regards to the character’s wardrobes. The family looks like they’ve been ripped from the pages of a Patagonia catalogue, not fighting their way through the apocalypse. If anything, I could’ve used some more character development for Evelyn, as it seemed as though she didn’t grow or change much throughout the course of the film. The same is true of the couple’s son, Marcus Abbott. However, the limitations of character development in a movie with approximately three minutes of dialogue are understandable. Despite this challenge, Krasinski and Blunt shows the incredible lengths parents will go to to protect their children.
Other than well-timed jump scares, the film isn’t incredibly scary; the sound monsters aren’t more gruesome than your average “Stranger Things”-type creatures. There are a few brief scenes involving gore and blood, but nothing to turn the stomach too much. Just don’t bring any grandmas to see it, I guess.
Perhaps the most unsettling aspect of this film is the sound engineering. The musical score is absolutely unrelenting, keeping pace with whatever is happening onscreen, be it a sweet and tender moment between Krasinski and Blunt, or somebody getting literally eaten or nearly drowning in a grain silo. This movie brings us into this jarringly silent world, where the slightest sound could mean death, and this weighs heavily on the viewer’s chest for the duration of the film. The visceral effects of each instance of sound had me clinging the armrest for dear life, and this combined with the immersiveness of the moments of total silence to throw my brain for a loop.
All in all, Krasinski and co-writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, put together a clever, physically and emotionally taxing film. “A Quiet Place” tugs at both heartstrings and seat cushions and is sure to keep raking it in at the box office.