The jump scare has become a tired cliche of horror films, a method that was never that necessary in the first place. Suspense and terror are often more potent when the viewer is allowed to perceive threats in an organic way. In a sense, John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place takes off from this premise, but that’s not its primary appeal. He and his scriptwriters don’t provide a lot of back story, and it takes a little time for the viewer to fully understand the danger at hand. It’s not clear where the monsters who kill and eat humans came from, though indications imply that they’ve been around for three months as the movie starts. These creatures have no sense of sight, and can only locate prey through sound, so the movie is by necessity quiet. Even the music, when it’s used, is subtler than what you normally hear in horror films—most of the time, anyway.
Consequently, there is also very little spoken dialogue in the film. The Abbots—father Lee (Krasinski), mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt), daughter Regan (Mllicent Simmonds), and son Marcus (Noah Jupe)—communicate by sign language, which they already know because Regan is deaf. In fact, this bit of intelligence cues the viewer in as to how the Abbots have managed to survive so long, because we only see one non-family member in the whole movie. Though much of the film involves the daily grind of survival—finding food, devising a means of defeating the monsters—the script contains one brilliant aspect that promises suspense in the long run. Evelyn is pregnant, meaning that eventually she will give birth to a squalling child. The sequence, as it were, is more terrifying and inventive than you think it will be, but it isn’t the climax, which is even more brilliant.
Though the movie owes more to Alien and Predator than its makers would like to admit, the film is unique in its ability to cause unease through silence. The monsters, though scary, aren’t nearly as impressive as Krasinski’s skill with creating a world without sound and making it feel like a place you know intimately. Unlike almost every other horror movie you will ever see, A Quiet Place compels you to not look away at all, because sight is the only weapon people have against their enemy, and the audience, as if in morbid sympathy, can’t even bring itself to blink. Needless to say, the sound design is vital, and you find yourself more attuned to everyday noises. There’s nothing particularly deep about the theme. Movies about the implosion of a family are a dime a dozen. What’s novel about A Quiet Place is its almost superhuman ability to scare without making you deranged.
Now playing in Tokyo at Toho Cinemas Nihonbashi (050-6868-5060), Toho Cinemas Hibiya (050-6868-5068), Shinjuk Wald 9 (03-5369-4955), Toho Cinemas Shinjuku (050-6868-5063), Toho Cinemas Shibuya (050-6868-5002), Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills (050-6868-5024), Cinema Sunshine Ikebukuro (03-3982-6388).
A Quiet Place home page in Japanese.
photo (c) 2018 Paramount Pictures