Sometimes, the prospect of going to a movie theater to see a new release can be anxiety-inducing. It could be that you’re hoping that someone isn’t going to spoil the movie you’re about to attend as they walk out of an earlier screening. Or maybe you’re just worried that you’re going to get stuck in a bad seat. For a movie like, A Quiet Place, you’re just hoping the rest of the crowd in attendance is going to behave themselves.
Recently, I’ve been getting into the matinee screening, especially when I decide to watch a movie on my own. On Saturday, I had some errands to run, which put me in proximity to an AMC, which has the assigned reclining seats; they’re nice, but for a solo trip to the theater, I’d much rather scope the scene and sit wherever I can, away from everyone else.
When I chose my seat at the kiosk, I was surprised to find that there was a decent amount of seats already taken, especially for a screening before 11am. For a movie like A Quiet Place, whose gimmick is in the title, I was worried that I’d be stuck with an uncooperative group of people that don’t get the conceit the movie is going for. Nothing could kill this screening more than someone chomping incessantly on popcorn or a couple of old people asking questions about the plot to each other. Fortunately, when this movie was at its most silent, you could hear a pin drop.
A Quiet Place takes place in the post-apocalyptic near future, similar to settings that you would see in a video game like The Last of Us or in The Walking Dead. This time around, it isn’t zombies that are threatening human existence, it’s a species of monsters (or aliens) with acute hearing that can’t see, but can hear the slightest noise disturbance from long distances. For the Abbotts, survival means staying silent by any means necessary. Shoes are a no-go (though, I’m not sure why they have to go sockless) and all walking done outside is done on a trail of sand that they’ve marked out, I assume to minimize the occasional breaking of branches or anything else they may step on. In the house, an old farmhouse, the stairs are marked with paint to signify where the boards won’t creak underfoot. Communication is done primarily through American sign language, which they know because their daughter is deaf.
Through the majority of the film, we see the family still reeling from the death of their youngest son. It is a fractured family that can’t speak, but would probably have little to say to each other if they could. Each and every person in the family blames themselves for the death of the youngest, and their silent predicament keeps them from resolving their issues. Added to the drama, the wife and mother, played by Emily Blunt, is pregnant and due in a manner of weeks. The impending birth looms, as they must plan for a crying baby in a world in which this is hardly a welcome sound.
The acting is strong in this film, and it’s one element that puts this above a usual studio horror film. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt do a lot of the heavy lifting, and it’s in their strong performances that help this film achieve a realistic feel. You’re able to buy into this family unit, even when they make fatal mistakes, as humans often do. But what sets this film apart, and truly makes this a unique experience is the work of young actress Millicent Simmonds, and the role that American Sign Language plays in the story. The use of ASL solves the thematic problem of having a film predominantly in silence. Through this addition to the film, the family is able to communicate in times of drama and chaos and the audience is able to keep up without having to ask too many questions.
It’s not every day that you come across a monster movie that is as well-acted as A Quiet Place. I chalk this up to the chemistry of the two leads (who are, of course, married in real life) and in John Krasinski’s direction. This film keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire runtime and I often found myself holding my breath at the most suspenseful moments.
RATING: 8 out of 10