A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place ★★★½

John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place, which held it’s premiere at SXSW, has held considerable promise and excitement in recent weeks, notably through it’s clever marketing campaign of maintaining quietness at a theatre in order to gain a rich and rewarding experience. It was through this that horror films felt like a grand event at your local theatre, one that recalled the promotional campaign of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

I can’t deny it. Sitting through A Quiet Place with a communal understanding of silence and concentration was exhilarating. It showcased a theatre experience that should be respected and upheld, even if knowing that such would not be granted for all other projected films. Krasinski’s intricate construction and emphasis of sound design brings to the forefront, once again, the idea that cinema is first and foremost a sensory experience; amplifying it’s elements of horror by stripping our inherent nature to produce and express sound.

What Krasinski has conveyed with his third entry as a director is essentially a reflection of his own sense of fear towards parenting, depicting a world filled with danger and knowing that he bears the responsibility to tightly protect them. It is through this where the film stems it’s primary source of drama, the energy that we latch onto that would have us care for the characters on the screen. Krasinski’s Lee teaches his children the necessary tools to survive within such a perilous environment, supporting them in their adaptation to this new way of life. We also see him actively tinkering with hearing aids as a means to potentially improve his daughter’s hearing, who has a disability, fearing of the vulnerable state that she faces with the rules established in this new world. This character’s disability is wonderfully shaped by an arc that would have her feel empowered by it’s end.

Although I admire the film for taking such grounded fears into the mould of a fantastical/supernatural horror feature, personally I feel it requires an inch further in depth and exploration, allowing it to exceed beyond than the superficial hooks that the film possesses. Earlier scenes where the family is interacting with one another allowed for us to dig deep into the fears and aspirations that consume them within such a landscape. It provided an air of intimacy and humanity in a story that is ready to disregard it for the sake of scares and thrills.

With that criticism aside, I cannot deny the power and impact that Krasinski was able to shape in A Quiet Place, as he finds his characters stripped of an ability and find ways to adapt for the sake of resilience and survival. He manages to place the audience within the conditions of it’s surviving characters, feeling the tension, risk, and fright upon every move and mistake. After a miniature prologue that visually explain the world, our protagonists, and their present circumstance, the film is essentially split into two halves, with the initial half being exactly what was mentioned earlier, filled with human interactions, exploring their fears, and highlighting their angsts and aspirations.

The latter half is where Krasinski flips the coin and turns it’s moment of peace and calmness to an energy of chaos. It almost plays out like an extended climax as rarely does it ever lets up. New dangers seem to emerge and the family is forced to find ways to avoid or power through them, specifically in the rules that are established in this world. It’s concept is inventive and Krasinski capitalises it to a great extent, and manages to do so that feels appropriate and thoughtful, rather than a cheap hook. Krasinski’s success is rooted in the empathic desire for it’s victims to gain some catharsis from the pain they are withholding.

Without a doubt, Krasinski should be commended for A Quiet Place, it marks as his breakthrough output that has placed him on everyone’s radar, resembling the impact left on Jordan Peele with Get Out. It shows his great intelligence of the audience, finding their trigger points and pounding on them with every chance he gets, while also providing dramatic elements that allow such characters to rise above the simple victims that they were designed to be. This is a film that was designed to be seen at a packed theatre and collectively share an experience.

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