Tay’s review published on Letterboxd:
this is a writer's workshop wet dream. this is a well-studied, well-executed narrative paradigm of what good writing does.
the exposition is kept to a minimum. the reality of this world is established quickly, but Krasinski does so efficiently and affectively. the physical and life-threatening stakes are marked from the get-go, as are the emotional stakes, which ultimately end up being even more terrifying and tension-inducing than the former.
there's any number of "plant and pay-offs," which are all satisfying, if not to varying degrees. with so little dialogue, this film just doesn't "show, not tell"; A Quiet Place is all show, don't tell. Krasinski even nails the principle of Chekhov's gun. nothing that is shown goes to waste. the set is lush and lonely, and he makes proper use of the surrounding woods, the wooden barn, the lived-in-but-nearly-abandoned family home.
all of this is to say that Krasinski has crafted a film that is more rich than its apocalyptic premise. this, i think, is less of a horror film than it is a family drama. perhaps it is both, yes, but still more than horror, this reminded me a lot of a survival thriller video game. maybe it doesn't seem markedly different to compare this to The Last of Us over any other horror film or game. but i think both stories notably excel because at their core, they are about their characters. the world, the setting, and the stakes are never shortchanged or forgotten, but the greatest horror is our humanity and its fragility against monsters (or mutants).
and here, Krasinski has written such a haunted family. it feels redundant to mention his chemistry with Blunt, but there's one scene between just the two of them, and as an audience, you understand their relationship now, 472 days into this new world, but you also get a glimpse of who they might've been in the world before the monsters, who they could've been without the creatures. it's beautiful and so sad and the song choice is absolutely perfect. Emily Blunt, too, is an absolute force in this. she's funny and protective and guilty and so resilient. i haven't loved a character like i loved hers in awhile, and the next time i revisit this movie, it'll be largely in part to her. the goddamn kids, too, are great. the acting is so strong throughout, which only helps the fact that their characters are also written to be smart. nothing is more frustrating than incompetent characters being incompetent. although i do think there are maybe a handful of actions or moments that made me pause, for the most part, Krasinski wrote really insightful and quick-on-their-feet characters. the family dynamic feels real, feels heavy, feels consequential.
and i've just got to pay quick lip service to how beautiful this film looks and sounds. the color grading is warm in the day, deafening at night; the film pushes the boundaries and utility of sound (or lack thereof) even further than i anticipated it would. hm, you know, maybe... maybe this is actually a part of why it felt less horror-y to me? A Quiet Place is so well-choreographed and the sound is so well-timed, that it feels like you know the beats that will hit, the jumps that will scare, just before they're about to happen. or maybe i was just so anxious that i was constantly already clenched, trying to anticipate that i would have to stifle my own fear soon enough. all i know is that now i've got another anxiety-knot in my shoulder from being so tense last night.
and i think that this is the the greatest evidence i have for how effective Krasinski's writing is: my audience was quiet. as people were coming into the sold-out theater, more groups than not were bringing with them popcorn and bags of candy, and i was so worried it'd be crunch & munch the whole way through. no one made a goddamn peep, though, except for one person who, at some point, went, "thank GOD," and someone else promptly and worriedly shushed them. in my peripherals, i could see i wasn't the only one holding my friend's hand. people were squished into their seats. instead of screaming, people were waving their hands silently in response. the theater itself was tense. and i have to hope that everyone had as much fun, and as much admiration, as i did for this.