Human beings make a lot of noise. They cry, scream, talk, sing, play music, yell. They stomp, break things, trip. They react to surprises with gasps or to pain with screeches. In John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place,” all of these innate noises, even the quietest whisper, will bring monsters with shark-like teeth, giant ears where eyes should be and long, lethal limbs racing over to kill you. Audiences can’t help but feel unsettled as they scream or gasp in terror, while the characters force themselves to remain silent, as if the noises made from the safety of the cinema could cause the monsters to crawl through the screen and kill them instead.
“A Quiet Place” centers around the Abbott family as they try to survive in their suddenly silent world. The movie begins within a few months of the world-wide outbreak of seemingly invincible monsters and gives background in a few ingenious ways. Newspapers pasted on the walls by the kids help to soundproof the basement of the house, a list of crossed-out major cities that Lee Abbott (John Krasinski) tries to contact and certain words written by Lee on the whiteboard in their house help to bring light to the extent of the outbreak, the number of monsters in the local area and the lack of knowledge about these creatures. The addition of a deaf child in their family also helps to make their family’s knowledge of sign language more believable.
The best scenes of the movie centered on intense moments of love and pain. The death of the youngest child of the family Beau (Cade Woodward) toward the beginning of the movie helped to create a dynamic of guilt. The eldest child Regan (Millicent Simmonds) blames herself for giving Beau the toy rocket which ended up making enough noise to get him killed. She constantly risks her life throughout the rest of the movie to protect the remainder of her family, especially her brother Marcus (Noah Jupe). She also acts distant, feeling as if her parents both hate her for what happened to her brother. Both Lee and his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) feel that they are to blame for not being able to protect their own child, and are willing to do anything to keep the rest of them alive.
Evelyn’s pregnancy creates a mounting sense of dread in the movie, since as her due date inches closer, the audience is reminded of the sheer volume of noise a baby makes. In the midst of the family trying to soundproof the basement in anticipation of a sobbing newborn, Evelyn and Lee take a moment away from the stress and fear of their silent world to simply be with one another. Evelyn slips an earbud in Lee’s ear and they slow dance to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” astounding the audience with a return to sound in a way that is intimate rather than fatal. This scene shows off the genuine chemistry between this real-life couple in a way that is unexpected in a horror movie.
Evelyn’s birth is the most excruciating scene to watch as she steps directly on a nail just after her water breaks, dropping a glass pitcher and summoning monsters into their house before the contractions even start. Alone in her bathtub, bleeding heavily, she bites back screams of pain as her contractions grow worse and worse and the monsters continue to draw closer.
This movie may have been created and starred by the sweet, prank-loving Jim Halpert from “The Office,” but it is in no way light-hearted. This film was an incredibly well-made depiction of human emotion forcing the audience to care about the Abbott’s and grow increasingly invested in their fate. It will leave you somehow both terrified of making noise and desperate to speak to another human being.
Rebecca Maher is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.