The best new monster movie in decades and lost-art of bold, unapologetic originality in concept flipping natural elements and hitting the genre in one of its most primal reactions: screams, AQP is a chillingly-unnerving, white-knuckle silence-set homage to classics with just as much family drama elegance as thrills – a star-making film inauguration for writer/director/actor Krasinski. 8.6/10.
Plot Synopsis: In 2020, most of Earth’s human population has been wiped out by a species of sightless creatures of unknown origin who hunt based off sound. The Abbott family—husband Lee, wife Evelyn, sons Marcus and Beau, & deaf daughter Regan—scavenge for supplies and try to stay alive in a world of silence where any sound they make could be their last.
*Possible Spoilers Ahead*
Review: Krasinski’s self-directed, written, and starred in love-letter/homage to classic monster movies is was absolutely WILD. I came in not knowing what to expect, but was blown away by the intensity and scares Krasinski and the cast were able to wring out of an admittedly bludgeoned genre where seemingly everything has already been done or tried before. A chilling, intense homage to classic monster flicks like Alien and Jaws that plays on elemental fears and adds bold new ideas and possibilities to the genre, Krasinski’s silence-set thriller A Quiet Place is a directorial tour-de-force and one of the freshest horror films in years.
Perhaps what is so remarkable about A Quiet Place is not what it has but what it’s missing. The whole movie is set in a world plagued by silence. There is no endless dialogue, no everyday sounds and hustle-and-bustle, and seemingly no people to be found anywhere. This lack of things we take for granted and are such an engrained part of our world immediately draws the viewers attention as they try to figure out what’s wrong. This is taken to its limit by the INCREDIBLE opening sequence of A Quiet Place. Similar to 2017’s It’s famous Georgie opening scene set in the rain-soaked streets of Derry, I love how modern horror films are undergoing a change to hit the ground running with a jaw-dropping taste of what’s to come that often serves as the film’s most memorable scene & best scare, and A Quiet Place’s is one of the wildest I’ve seen.
The films’ motif of silence in an almost deaf-like world is a bold new idea for the genre that’s as original as they come, and not only highlights a community not often represented on screen in the deaf community (bolstered foremost by deaf actress Millicent Simmons who plays Regan) but pays off in spades because it makes the horror hit 10x harder. The film almost plays coy and lulls you into a false sense of comfort with the silence while making you stay on the edge of your seat and read every line on screen (the film did something I thought impossible in a movie theater: make people shut up for once!), only to hit you hard with tremendous jump scares that truly do make you jump due to their rarity and the dichotomy between silence and loud, as well as the attention to quality making each scare inventive and heart-pounding like the cornfield pursuit.
Aside from the silence which is the film’s freshest and strongest point, A Quiet Place doesn’t fall into the same traps that plague the vast majority of the modern monster movie and horror genre: The characters are phenomenally-written and not just monster/slasher bait, are impeccably acted, not stupid, and actually intriguing and investable in. This is something you just have to give credit to Krasinski for, especially when considering he is still getting his feet wet as a director and not only writing and directing it so masterfully, but also incredible performaning the central role in the movie as Lee. The best attributes of what made Krasinski such a great character and fan favorite from his most famous role in The Office like his emotive expression and investment into his role, also bleed into his performance here, but in a completely different way and tone that just signal he has a bright future in film. AQP also has heart and emotion to go along with the scares, making the viewer feel for the characters when they find themselves in brutally tough situations like having to give birth while hunted and Lee’s heartbreaking sacrifice scene.
Emily Blunt is also phenomenal as the strong female lead and devoted mother, and Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmons are also great as the kids having to grow up in this twisted world where any sound you make could be your last. All characters are intelligent in how they deal with this world’s limitations (except the youngest son in the opening but he’s just a child and the film needed a strong crux to draw you in & anchor itself), and are developed incredibly with layered ideologies and storylines that are also brought to life beautifully with rarely-mentioned but fantastic cinematography and camerawork that feels almost like upscale Walking Dead sets in the forest and farmlands.
There are so many homages to classic monster flicks too that it will put a mile-wide smile on any cinemaphile’s face. The creature itself is impeccably-designed, with clear homages to Alien’s Xenomorph both in its look and sound, but also more of a praying mantis form that is downright creepy as we’re given more and more glances. Krasinski also mentioned in pre-production interviews that he was most heavily influenced by his favorite monster movie: Jaws, and it shows too. The creature hunting based off an elemental sense of nature in sound is just like Jaws’ Great White hunting from smell, and no one being able to see the creature coming until its too late due to its apex predator status and skill navigating its terrain is just like Jaws’ shark eulogy too. The creature even goes underwater in the basement scene and the percussion is in the same key and tempo as John William’s iconic score in the cornfield chase scene: my favorite scene of the film.
Now although there are so many things A Quiet Place does beautifully that it far outweighs any flaws, there are a few I had problems I had with it. First, while I love the creature in its overall design and motif causing silence and fear with its sound-hunting ability, he could’ve looked a little better, especially in the head. The head opening up is something we’ve seen time and time again and has lost its badassness and appeal. I mean, Stranger Things’ Demagorgon did the EXACT same thing just last year with the head opening up, as well as others, so I’m not sure why that was a deal-breaker in design.
Finally, my biggest problem with the film and pretty much the only thing that really held the film back from perfection for me after the brilliant first two acts: the ending. I REALLY did not like the ending they chose for A Quiet Place, and it’s a shame as it could’ve not only been legendary but All-Time greatness had it had a proper ending. First of all, they decided to set it again in the restricted and dark basement, the third time they’d used that setting in the movie and it was thoroughly played-out by then. Second, the idea that this creature that is so deadly it’s killed most of the world’s population, could be stopped by a single bullet from a wounded and weakened mother’s gun kind of saps the power from the moment. I’m all for feminism equality and strong female leads, but not every female lead needs to deliver the final blow especially with this type of creature where it should’ve been a team effort. Lastly, I despise the last shot & how they decided to dangle a cliffhanger over us and seemingly demand a sequel to show what happened instead of just making art and worrying about a sequel later. I mean, I (and most of the world based on the box office numbers) were completely on board for a sequel either way, but showing this kind of desparation for sequels and franchising instead of making a great monster movie that stands on its own is a modern filmmaking practice that really irks me, especially due to the fact that other classic monster movies didn’t so blatantly demand a sequel and ended each film as a full and complete story unto itself.
Overall, A Quiet Place is a phenomenal monster flick that makes you want to scream but second guess that scream due to its wildly original and fascinating premise of a world set in silence where the simplest sound can be your demise. Through lovingly crafted and surgically-executed direction, writing, and acting, as well as a nostalgic homage to the greats that paved the way while also paving it more and openign up endless creative possibilities for a tired genre, A Quiet Place achieves its scares and leaves viewers seriously satisfied and thoroughly entertained walking out of the theater.
Official CLC Score: 8.6/10