Billed as this year's It Comes at Night, The Office's John Krasinski writes, directs and stars in A Quiet Place alongside Emily Blunt as parents looking after their family in a world overrun by creatures that hunt via sound. Survival tip #1: turn your phones onto aeroplane mode, as even low-level noise can result in an instant splattering. Besides this, the less said about the plot the better, but survival against these seemingly invincible creatures is the name of the game.
A Quiet Place takes a simple concept and uses it in increasingly inventive and gripping ways. As you could expect, the film’s tension relies on a well-constructed sound design. Gut-dropping moments of dead silence abrade against the senses, only to be shattered by thunderous moments of threat; I’m not exaggerating when I say you could hear a pin drop (or a crisp packet rustling) from the opposite end of the cinema. When a river’s flow becomes cacophonous and whispers fill the air, moments of noisiness become almost unbearable by comparison.
The architecture of A Quiet Place’s sound is its skeleton – the compelled silence has a claustrophobic quality in contrast with the agoraphobic setting of the forests and cornfields in which the monsters lurk. There’s a tangible atmosphere of dread laying heavy throughout the film, permeating even its calmer, more emotional moments.
As a genre piece, A Quiet Place possesses subtlety indebted to Alien and 10 Cloverfield Lane, in the sense that the immediate threat of violence plays second fiddle to the omnipresent threat based on the erosion of the group dynamic - like what could happen if anyone in the family makes a noise. Additionally, both Alien and Jaws’ central struggles of normal people against an abject evil are the bread and butter of A Quiet Place’s conflict. This trope says a lot about why the film works – a simple horror concept executed well is, more or less, the success story here.
Overall, A Quiet Place is well worth your time – it is an original and hugely enjoyable creature feature that accomplishes what it sets out to do with thrilling genre gusto. Simple, entertaining, but by no means cheap, thrills.