Imagine the first act of Wall-e but feature length and a thriller and that’s what A Quiet Place is. Yes please.
A Quiet Place (2018) is a horror/thriller directed by John Krasinski (‘Jim from the Office). It also stars Krasinski along with Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds as a small family trying to survive in a world that has been invaded by creatures that hunt you through sound.
It feels like one of the most consistently solid genres in cinema right now is the humble thriller. Maybe its how cheaply they can be made or the lack of brand recognition required to be successful, but it seems like every year there’s one or two great original thrillers released unto the world. Last year blessed us with Get Out and this year has already decided to be kind with A Quiet Place – not the groundbreaker Get Out was but is sure still going to be remembered as a great film in its own right.
Its a very simple story told almost entirely through visuals – a feat that’s a little tricky to pull off but very successful if done well. And A Quiet Place does fairly well for itself. While a little clunky at times and most definitely lacks the magic touch Pixar had to make the first act of Wall-e so special, director Krasinski swings for the fences as silently as possible and for the most part has succeeded. Its a simple plot, but effective, and keeps the thrills coming fast, making for a taut and extremely memorable experience.
And by god are the thrills thrilling. Bolstered by an appropriately astonishing sound design, Krasinski approaches the tension of A Quiet Place like a steadily tightening vice. He has such an incredible command of tempo and pace when it comes to the scares, slowly building scenes from one complication to the next until it all peaks in a screaming crescendo of sound and fury. Its incredibly impressive work for such an inexperienced thriller director (third film but first in the genre) and represents a stellar debut of a talent that will hopefully be kind enough to grace us with more thrills in the future.
It also helps that the film has a cast that’s up to the challenge of the direction. Krasinski is great as the concerned father of the group – it may be jarring for some to see an actor better known for his work in comedy take on a serious role but this is just further proof how incredibly versatile comedic actors have a history of being. His real life wife Emily Blunt also plays his on-screen wife and as far as I am aware she can do no wrong. She’s consistently been one of my favourite contemporary actresses and A Quiet Place simply cements everything I already knew. The real surprises are the two children played by Simmonds and Jupe who both deliver compelling and nuanced performances. Simmonds in particular really impresses in only her second on-screen role (first being Wonderstruck in which she’s also great), playing a young woman grappling with grief and inability in a way that acts as the emotional crux of the film.
Aside from some clunky visual storytelling, this is an incredibly capable thriller with a great premise, cast and scares. An easy recommend to anyone who loves the genre and hopefully an indication of many more Krasinski directed thrillers to come.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Recommended