You can go outside, you can eat, bathe, all the other things, just don’t make a sound, for then the monsters will get you!
This dark tale picks up after what would usually be the in-sighting incident. The monsters have already come and wiped out a lot of other people. A family is surviving fine, they all go out into an abandoned town and enter a mostly empty abandoned store, they gather what they need and leave. While walking home the youngest boy puts batteries in a toy plane he found, it lights up and makes noises. Dread instantly fills the faces of the others, the Father races to him, all the others can do is cover their mouths so not to make any noises themselves, the father races and races, something moves in the trees and before he can get to his son something has leaped out and taken him.
We gather through careful and skillfully placed visual information that monsters have come and they are blind but are very sensitive to and instantly attack sound. So all they need to do is not make a noise.
What cinema offers as a medium, is to show you things through movement. Not tell you things, if you want to be talked to you can get that in comics, books, or radio plays. Cinema is about expressing its story or message through the image and the movements on the screen, that is what Hitchcock referred to as “Pure Cinema” which is what is present here.
The best visuals require no dialogue. If the dialogue is good then great, but the truest essence of something visual should not require an explanation. All the actors are rendered mute for approximately ninety percent of the movie, yet through body language, they are able to convey their fear, determination, even a little bit of humor into their existence. Emily Blunt as the mother, Millicent Simmonds as the deaf daughter (who is deaf in real life)
Noah Jupe as the young son all brings to life people that must feel many things through this story and with virtually no words. Special credit goes to John Krasinski who plays the father as well as serving other duties as director, writer, and producer, this is clearly his vision that he has worked very hard to create.
Immense care has been given to constructing the families lifestyle to living without making a sound. They use sign language to converse (which is accompanied with subtitles), they pour powder down on a path where they walk to soften the sound of their footsteps, the house where the floorboards creek have paint marking where it is safe to step. They play board games and have to roll the dice onto a cloth and the game pieces are made of foam, plush or sponge. Such details like these show how well the concept has been thought through and help us connect with the characters living situation.
The creatures themselves are of course a major focus point. We don’t really know if they are aliens, a science experiment went wrong or demons. But such knowledge is out of the characters to reach and is superfluous anyway. What matters is the situation they have put the character in. They are very threateningly designed, though I will forgo a description and let you watch the movie for yourself. What truly matters is the skillful way in which they are not seen, when a loud noise is made there is so much dread that fills the scene, before anything of them can be seen or heard we register that these things mean death, pure and simple. For most of it, we only get flashes of them as they strike lightning fast and they disappear. Don’t worry, we get a good, full look at them, but these early scenes serve to wet our appetites.
Whilst it is built on a very intriguing premise, one that could fuel a classic literary work or a very memorable episode of The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits, it is in the thinking through and execution that makes A Quiet Place one of the most well made and striking horror movies to come out in a while. It is minimal in exposition details but deep in thinking through how to deal with the situation and masterful in crafting it’s scares.