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Movie Review: A Quiet Place
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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Movie Review: A Quiet Place. Left to right: Emily Blunt plays Evelyn Abbott and Millicent Simmonds plays Regan Abbott in A QUIET PLACE, from Paramount Pictures.

A Quiet Place
Director: John Krasinski
Writer: Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski
Cast: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Rated PG-13 | 95 Minutes
Release Date: April 6, 2018

Co-written and directed by John Krasinski, the horror-thriller A Quiet Place is set in a dystopian 2020, in the aftermath of an extraterrestrial attack. The planet’s population has been decimated by a race of blind, bloodthirsty creatures that hunt their prey with a heightened sense of hearing. In New York, the Abbott family learns how to survive in complete silence after their youngest son, Beau (Cade Woodward), falls victim to the sound-sensitive invaders.

Krasinski (of The Office and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi) stars as Lee Abbott, a survivalist who focuses on keeping his family safe by sound-proofing their existence. Lee, his wife, Evelyn (Emily Blunt, Edge of Tomorrow and the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns), and their children Regan (Millicent Simmonds, Wonderstruck) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) communicate using American Sign Language because even a whisper could alert the creatures to their location. They walk barefoot on sandy paths and live in a secluded farmhouse fortified with blankets, mattresses, and other noise-canceling materials.

There’s only one problem: Evelyn is pregnant. If post-apocalyptic fiction like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or AMC’s The Walking Dead has taught us anything, it’s that the smoldering ruins of civilization are no place to raise a child, especially one overrun by monsters. Bringing a baby into this silent nightmare makes for a lot of tension, which I’m sure is why co-writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck inserted this bit of white-knuckled melodrama into their screenplay. A sweet, innocent newborn who threatens to wail its head off at any moment is the perfect ticking time bomb in a movie where noise is the leading cause of death.

As Evelyn begins to prepare for the baby’s arrival, Lee attempts to repair his daughter’s broken cochlear implant with scavenged parts. Unlike a hearing aid, which amplifies sound, a cochlear implant bypasses damaged parts of the ear and stimulates the cochlear nerve, providing a sense of sound to someone who is deaf or severely hard of hearing. Lee hopes that by adding amplifiers, he can boost the implant’s signal, allowing Regan to be more aware of her surroundings. So, you have a baby that can’t be quiet and a kid who can’t hear – who doesn’t know if she’s making a sound or if danger is nearby. It’s the perfect, suspense-filled setup for an engaging and wholly entertaining monster movie.

Left to right: Noah Jupe plays Marcus Abbott, Millicent Simmonds plays Regan Abbott and John Krasinski plays Lee Abbott in A QUIET PLACE, from Paramount Pictures.

Krasinski and his co-writers take their time in developing the individual members of the Abbott family and the dynamics of their interpersonal relationships. Because of this, we are emotionally attached to them. We become scared for them because we can imagine ourselves in their place. There’s a meta element to the drama too, as Krasinski and Blunt are married in real life. When Krasinski first read an early draft of the script, the premise hit home especially hard as the couple had just given birth to their second daughter. After signing on to rewrite the script and direct the film, Krasinski channeled all his anxieties and fears of parenthood into the story.

The performances are no doubt the strongest part of A Quiet Place, with Blunt and Krasinski’s natural chemistry carrying the emotional weight of the movie. Millicent Simmonds taps directly into her own experiences growing up as a deaf person to create Regan, and the result is a sensitive but resilient performance that pulls you deeper into the story and its sustained moments of suspense. And just to go back to Blunt for a second, the actress gives another bad-ass performance right up there with her recent work in films like Looper, Edge of Tomorrow, and Sicario. I’m still holding out hope for an Edge sequel with 100% more Full Metal Bitch action.

The film’s shortcomings are more to do with the lack of world-building around the antagonists. Little information is given about the extraterrestrial invaders, and it would’ve been nice to get a short prologue that fleshed out a few details. How did these seemingly unintelligent, instinctual creatures attack our planet? Are they simple beasts under the control of a more advanced life form? I’d love to know more. And then there’s the creature design, which is sufficiently scary but somewhat uninspired. It’s essentially the Demogorgon from Stranger Things, which is cool, but I was left underwhelmed by the reveal. Don’t hide the monster the whole movie only to show me something I’ve already seen.

A mix of It Comes At Night, The Descent, and Tremors, A Quiet Place is the first theatrical horror release of the year that delivers on its nerve-jangling premise, with strong performances and impressive visuals from cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen (Molly’s Game, Girl on the Train). This is Krasinski’s third film as director, after his adaptation of David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and 2016’s The Hollars. And while neither of those movies suggested that “Jim” from The Office was a visionary horror filmmaker, A Quiet Place feels like the work of an emerging talent, poised to make an impact on the genre.

Trailer

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