Silence Is Life: 'A Quiet Place' Review
A Quiet Place begins in a small northeastern town in the months following an extinction level event. A family of five, headed by Lee Abbott (John Krasinski) and his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) take refuge on their farm, and live near a store where they can get provisions. They don't speak or wear shoes to avoid detection by blind creatures that track and kill anything they can hear. The Abbotts have three children, the oldest of whom is Regan (Millicent Simmonds), a deaf teenager. Their older son, Marcus (Noah Jupe), is slightly younger than Regan. Their younger son, Beau (Cade Woodward), doesn't fully understand the necessity of silence. One day, Beau grabs a toy he wants, but Lee makes him put it down because of the noise factor. When he's not looking, Regan removes the batteries from the toy. When she's not paying attention, Beau grabs the batteries and replaces them. When he turns on the toy, he is killed by one of the creatures.
The family's life encounters another obstacle a year later, when Evelyn becomes pregnant. Lee creates a soundproof area as a safe space for the impending arrival. Lee also has a private work area which he doesn't let the kids access. There, he tries to see if he can discover a weakness in these killers, and also tries to repair Regan's hearing aid. He has almost no success in either area. Hidden dangers in the home, though, draw the sort of attention the Abbotts don't want. This happens as Evelyn goes into labor, which leaves the family scrambling to create a diversion for what they know will come.
A Quiet Place has easily become the best-known feature Krasinski has directed. His previous efforts behind the camera were Brief Interviews With Hideous Men (2009) and The Hollars (2016). A Quiet Place has almost no dialog, but does make use of sign language so the family can converse without speaking. The movie is an effective thriller, creating tension in a place that should be admired for its beauty. Through farming and fishing and occasional shopping, they subsist. Krasinski also co-wrote the screen treatment with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, who are writing and directing partners in their own right. The story is smart, though not completely consistent. In the open, the Abbotts' foes dispatch their targets almost instantly. However, when one of them hears noise in the Abbott home, it comes on the front door as if it were a burglar instead of laying waste to the residence to quickly take care of business. Sound has little safe space, such as the spot behind a waterfall where Lee and Marcus make less noise than the roaring water.
The cast certainly knows how to convey emotion without the use of words. Krasinksi shows a sternness in his authority and an ability to think fast as Lee. He always has to balance love and protection as he helps to keep his family alive. Blunt provides comfort and understanding as Evelyn, who knows that Regan wants to know more about her father's activities. She also imparts the need to someday follow Lee's lead to Marcus in a humorous way. Simmonds, as Regan, lives with the guilt of Beau's death, and wishing to somehow redeem herself as she sees Marcus has become more of a confidant to Lee than she is. When not at home, she busies herself with building a small memorial to her late little brother. Jupe is also curious as Marcus as he learns some of the skills his dad has.
A Quiet Place shows the bonds and the determination that keep a family together while they avoid a fate that has befallen much of mankind. They have an obvious advantage by living with a hearing impaired family member. It is normal for people to make sounds, but they have done all they know to go against their natural inclination. While much of humanity has met its doom, the Abbotts find that their greatest resource is one another.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give A Quiet Place 3.5 stars. Don't make a sound.