Be quiet. Be very, very quiet.
In case you haven’t already heard, you have to keep very quiet when you see the film, A QUIET PLACE. In this horror-thriller directed by and starring John Krasinski (best known for the US version of TV’s THE OFFICE) and his real-life wife, Emily Blunt (THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN), sound, or the lack of it, plays a key part of both the story and the film’s mood. For the characters in the story, if they make noise, they will be viciously attacked by an alien creature that hunts by sound. For the audience, if they make noise, they might just be verbally attacked other audience members. Be forewarned – munch on that popcorn as quietly as you can and mute your mobile phone before the film starts!
Set in the near future, A QUIET PLACE opens on a family of five who are quietly scavenging for supplies in what looks like a post-apocalyptic upstate New York or New England town. The front page of a newspaper billows in the breeze and we can see the headline that screams, “IT’S SOUND!” Supplies on their backs, the family quietly makes its way barefoot out of the town. It’s there where we catch our first glimpse of the thing that has caused this disaster. Fast forward a year and the family is living in the basement of a deserted house on a corn farm. As much as they try to normalise their lives, they know that the slightest peep from any of them will bring the creature, or creatures, to their home. But a series of tiny incidents does exactly that and the family has to rely on everything they’ve learned about survival over the past year to stay alive.
This is a delightfully taut film that works thanks both to the solidly committed performances all around (Millicent Simmons (WONDERSTRUCK) and Noah Jupe (SUBURBICON; WONDER) play the family’s older children) and for its brilliant use of sound. Even though the family is silent or sometimes whispering, there’s still plenty to hear and Krasinski plays it to full effect. I wrote in a review of a horror film last year that sound is supposed to add to the film’s mood, not smother in goop. Krasinski and sound editor Erik Aadahl really get it right here. The sound will put you on the edge of your seat right from the first scene and keep you there all the way to the end… unless you jump in fright along the way, which you might just do more than once.
If there is anything that’s lacking here it’s the story, which has more than a few plot holes. Without revealing anything, all I’ll mention is the nail. That drove me crazy! There are other things about the story that don’t stand up to scrutiny but if go with the flow and enjoy this one for what it is – sheer entertainment – you’ll have a great ride!
Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live in RTHK Radio 4’s studio on Thursday, April 12th at 8:30 am HK time!
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