It isn’t easy to make a successful horror movie, especially when the director is an actor who only had one other movie to his credit. With that said, A Quiet Place ended up as one of the best horror movies this year when it came to atmosphere, performances and technique.
John Krasinski, who most the world knows as Jim from The Office, directed and starred in A Quiet Place and did something daring with this film that worked masterfully. He made a film that remained deathly quiet for long stretches and built the tension to an almost unbearable level.
The movie starts about three months after an alien invasion killed almost everyone on the planet. The aliens are monsters who are blind but have uncanny hearing and speed, and the survivors realize that they have to remain completely silent or they will die.
Krasinski is Lee, a husband and father of three who has done a pretty good job of keeping his family alive. Their oldest daughter Regan is deaf, so the family already knew sign language before the alien attacks. Krasinski did a smart thing by casting Millicent Simmonds, a deaf actress, to play Regan, and she was able to really give her all in the role.
That is important because when the movie starts, the family is scavenging for medicine in the ransacked town for the oldest son Marcus (Noah Jupe). When their youngest son, a toddler named Beau, finds a space rocket toy, he is excited because he says they can build their own rocket and escape the monsters.
Lee sees this, takes away the toy and removes the batteries, before explaining that it is too loud for a toy. Regan gives the toy back and they leave, but not before Beau grabs the batteries too. On the way home, he puts the batteries in, turns it on, and before his family can get to him, a monster swoops in and kills the child.
A year later the family is still alive, both Lee and his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) blaming themselves while Regan believes it is her fault and thinks her father hates her for it. It is Regan who the movie pays the closest attention to — a child who believes her carelessness killed her little brother.
The family is fractured but they are still survivors and have made it this long. There are a few other survivors around their town, but the movie only shows one other and keeps it just on the Abbott family throughout the film.
There are some problems with the film and those are questionable script decisions that were clearly just added to up the tension but remain unrealistic. When the movie starts up again, Evelyn is pregnant, which makes no sense. Why did they not get birth control while getting medicine and if there was none why would they risk sex for a pregnancy?
Even if Evelyn gets through the labor without screaming, how can they keep the baby quiet? The film shows that they planned for this and Lee had some ideas on how to keep the noise from getting them all killed, but it just seems dumb that they would risk bringing a baby into this world, knowing how hard it was to keep their original three kids alive.
With that said, the pregnancy, the problems between Lee and Regan, and the always imminent threat of the monsters in the area (there are at least three that they know of), makes the tension and level of fear in this movie almost unbearable.
Things go a little off-the-rails when the final battle starts, but everything leading up to that was just pitch perfect terror and it is clear that Krasinski studied movies like Alien when blocking the horror in his film.
The ending was also perfect, a crowd-pleasing moment with a parent ready to defend her children with all her being.
John Krasinski did the unthinkable. He made a horror movie that had almost no dialogue and very little music and turned it into a masterclass of how to raise tension and keep the audience on edge. It will be exciting to see what he does next.