Written by J. Weagle
On paper A Quiet Place, the directorial debut of John Krasinski, (best know for his work as Jim Halpert on the American version of The Office) sounds like a unique and refreshing take on the monster movie. However as often happens with horror films the premise on paper sounds better then the final result and although A Quiet Place is a solid theatrical film it suffers the same fate as so many others did before it.
Right away we are thrown into the world of A Quiet Place without any sort of back story, and the world of A Quiet Place is one of hopelessness and despair. We follow the Abbott family (though I do not believe their names are actually given in the film) who are forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures who hunt using only sound. Again on paper this sounds like a genius idea, one that is incredibly simple yet so unique at the same time. What I appreciate about the film is the utter lack of back story, in fact we are given zero information (other then the occasional news paper headline) about what exactly happened to the world, or where the film takes place, or if this is a global event or a more isolated incident. So often movies tend to over explain themselves taking away any mystery they may have, A Quiet Place leaves us with questions, because at the end of the day none of that stuff is really important. The films major concern is with the interactions and well being of the family and how they come together to survive in such a harsh environment.
It’s a neat idea that is made all the better with really fantastic performances by everyone involved, with Emily Blunt being the obvious standout, but that should come as a surprise to no one. John Krasinski not only directs but plays the husband both onscreen and in real life, and comes off as though he is auditioning for the role of Joel in a live action version of The Last of Us. It’s a complete departure from what we usually see of him, and a complete 180 from his days on The Office, trading in his snarky good guy charm for a damaged father desperately trying to keep his family alive.
While the premise and acting is all top notch, it’s the execution that ultimately fell a bit flat for me. The film does a good job making us care about these characters and the synopsis is unique, however it’s the actually horror element that feels uninspired and often repetitive. Right away it is made clear that any sort of noise will lead to a monster attack, so for essentially the entire run time, the film boils down to a character making a mistake by being loud, followed by a jump scare. The first few times this happens it’s a bit fun, but this clever idea quickly becomes tedious and sucks out any tension that may have been there and becomes a by the numbers horror film.
A Quiet Place is an odd balance of a very well made film from a technical standpoint, with great acting and characters we care about, mixed with obvious jump scares and very little in the way of surprises. It’s a very good directorial debut from John Krasinski and I really hope that he returns to horror whether that is on screen or behind the camera, as he obviously is capable of solid work in the genre. It’s a film that I believe mainstream audiences will adore (maybe the wrong choice of word?) but one that horror audiences will bore of rather quickly, and although far from a train wreck it falls into the forgettable category for me. A great horror film will both scare you and leave you thinking about it long after it’s over, and while A Quiet Place does leave you questioning the world it has created, much like the overall film itself those are very surface level questions with little in the way of substance.