A QUIET PLACE: JOHN KRASINSKI’S HORROR DEBUT DELIVERS SMART SILENT THRILLS – SXSW 2018

Read the original post at The Cinematropolis

A Quiet Place

John Krasinski is a widely admired filmmaker, largely due to his work as Jim Halpert on The Office. He’s written/directed/ produced a couple of endearing films in the past, but he is hardly known as a storyteller with an expertise in the horror genre. That will all change with his newest film, A Quiet Place.

This supernatural horror is set in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity appears to have been largely defeated by an elusive creature that responds only to sound. The film opens with an unnamed family made up of a father(Krasinski), mother (Emily Blunt), son (Noah Jupe), deaf daughter(Millicent Simmonds) and youngest son who are all quietly scavenging for supplies. On their way back to their farm, they encounter dangerous foes. There’s a time jump early in the film that takes us more than a year and a half after the apparent defeat of humanity. I want to avoid adding too many extra details in order to preserve the best secrets hidden within this intense 90-minute ride, but needless to say, this is a story about family, survival and reconciling the sins of the past.

When thinking about this movie, three words immediately come to mind. Tension, atmosphere, and anticipation. Despite never having tackled this type of story before, Krasinski keeps a precise pulse on what savvy horror audiences expect to happen. Aside from a couple of uncharacteristic jump scares in the film’s opening act, A Quiet Place spends most of its runtime anticipating the journey the audience will be on. Instead of playing into more typical horror tropes, the film uses those expectations to create discomfort as it lingers in a painful tension of between expectation and suspense. The atmosphere pulls viewers in and puts them in the passenger’s seat. Like the characters, the audience is tempted to scream at any given point of the movie, but the largely silent setting punishes these viewers who expect the bottom to fall out early by offering nothing, at least not when a typical scare or fakeout would normally play out.

To avoid death by movie monster, the characters communicate almost exclusively via sign language and lip reading. Outside of being visually engaging, it’s thrilling to see these talented actors push their body language as far they can go. What could have been an easy gimmick is used to great effect to create an eerie and perpetually intense atmosphere. The film’s skinny 95-minute runtime moves at a brisk pace that keeps the gimmick from getting stale or predictable. There are small nods to what caused the end of society throughout the film, but this standalone horror story wisely decides not to concern itself with the details about the apocalypse and instead decides to focus on the characters.

Speaking of the characters, this cast is absolutely stellar. Married power-couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt have a natural chemistry together, but what’s even more impressive is just how well Noah Jupe and deaf actress Millicent Simmonds click as siblings. The crux of the film relies largely on Simmonds’ vulnerability and difficult relationship with her father and she knocks her performance out of the park. In a moments notice, she can flip her emotions off and go on the defensive in order to survive. This is Simmonds’ second film after 2017’s Wonderstruck and if A Quiet Place is any indication, she has a bright future ahead.

The family drama at the heart of this film is the glue that brings all of these other exceptional elements together. When the supernatural circumstances are stripped away, a story of a family who must trust each other in the face of grief, disobedience, and mistrust remains. The film may not be long or particularly complex, but at its emotional core, it’s a story viewers from all walks of life will connect with.

A Quiet Place is a surefire success because it understands the art of crowd-pleasing in a horror film without giving in to the worse impulses of a PG-13 horror film. John Krasinski’s first foray into horror demonstrates an impressive grasp of the conventions of horror. The film is a lean, mean adrenaline-generating machine that will have your heart pounding right up until the very final moments. And then you’ll want more.

A Quiet Place

 

RECOMMENDATION: Watch this movie at FULL PRICE in the theater with an audience.

PAIR WITH: Pitch Black, Don’t Breathe, Dead Silence

A Quiet Place premiered at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival. It opens nationwide on April 6, 2018.

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