A Quiet Place: Sound as the Main Character

A Quiet Place (2018)

Director – John Krasinski

Writer – Bryan Woods, Scott Beck

Starring – John Krasinski, Emily Blunt

Rating – PG-13

Genre – Horror, Thriller

Metascore – 82/100

Rotten Tomatoes – 95%

A movie is nothing but lights and sound without a good story. I obsess over movies that are able to be transport me to a brand new world with depth and meaning. Indie originals like A Quiet Place break new ground in a genre often saturated with similar looking films. Director John Krasinski brings a new monster to the screen: silence.

Sound is an easily forgotten element of film, and easily abused. In particular, horror movies tend to abuse the power of sound by lowering all normal sounds and elevating moments of tension by over-relying on musical cues for a scare, i.e. the jump scare. Jump scares have become all too prevalent in horror, and I fully expected this movie to exploit that practice. My jump-scare standard is that there has something to be feared on the other end of an abrupt cut or sound. Otherwise, the jump scare unbinds all tension that’s built up within you and the payoff falters because your tension has been greedily spent. A Quiet Place subverts this practice by eradicating everyday sounds because absolute silence is required for survival. Sound in this world has become an indifferent, ultimate authority on life and death and is painfully unforgiving. Krasinski delivers on most jump scares, ensuring what is on the other end of the jump scare is truly to be feared.

A Quiet Place is John Krasinski’s third directed film and surpasses both of his previous credits. Krasinski weaves his own experience into a family-driven horror film, starring alongside his wife, Emily Blunt, and a cast he had a careful hand in choosing. He non-negotiably cast a deaf actress for this project because of the importance of sound within the film. Krasinski portrays the unshakeable hope of a family being able to live a peaceful life in a world where one mistake means imminent death. He is able to accomplish this unique perspective all while having costly and limited dialogue. Practical details are littered throughout the film to mute mundane sounds, like knitted board game pieces or lettuce instead of plates. All of these practical details help the viewer inhabit the space alongside the characters as they grow to care for them.

Amidst this pioneering story, there are heavy handed air drops of information and unnecessary detours, but most of these are forgivable thanks to the well crafted scares. The hype surrounding this movie is justified if only we could nix the last seven to ten minutes. A Quiet Place directs its audience to a clear ending, then quickly leads them down a few unnecessary hallways to a tedious and cliche exit. It seems they fought too hard to protect the perfectly brisk runtime of 90 minutes; in doing so they created a loud finale that unraveled a portion of their quiet storytelling. Despite its flaws, A Quiet Place is a warm family drama at its core, that nonetheless delivers tension and scares throughout.

Authors: Jesse Ingram, Josh Johnson

499 Rating: 7.8 / 10