A Quiet Place (Movie Review)

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

PLOT: When a young family of five is forced to cohabitate with a race of mysterious creatures that hunt by sound, they must navigate the terrain in total silence in order to survive.

REVIEW: Here's the best mainstream horror movie of the year so far. Following a pair of middling to forgettable comedies helmed in 2009 and 2016, funnyman John Krasinski has gallantly taken a daring idea for his third feature, A QUIET PLACE, that if executed poorly, would likely end up as laughably inconsequential as his first two. Alas, fortune favors the bold, and Krasiniski has not only executed this crucial idea with extremely affective and effective aplomb, in so doing, he’s clearly turned in his best directorial duty to date. I’ll be frank. Giving all the press and promo rounds from Platinum Dunes, I thought this movie had only one of two opposite poles to cling to. It would either be really awful or nearly great, with little middle ground found in between. And for a PG-13 studio outing from a director who also stars alongside his own wife, forgive me, but I thought the former camp was predestined. Boy could I not be happier to be wrong in this regard. It may not transcend its way into undeniable greatness, but for a 90-minute thrill-ride tiptoeing so delicately on its fragile high-wire premise, there’s no doubt about it, A QUIET PLACE is a destination worth visiting!

Day 89. The Abbott family continues navigating an unnamed countryside whose population has been waylaid by a mysterious monster incursion. In a masterful opening sequence that immediately sets the scenario, establishes the rules, declares the stakes and forces us viewers to wholly abide by them – Lee (Krasinski) and his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) gather supplies in an abandoned pharmacy for their ailed son Marcus (Noah Jupe). Naturally deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) moves in total silence, communicates through sign language and presses upon the importance of not making a sound. Upon leaving, the youngest son Beau (Cade Woodward) can’t help but light up an electronic toy, which beckons a properly frightening monstrosity that looks like an amphibious, bipedal cross between The Predator, an Alien Xenomorph and a juvenile Japanese spider-crab. The heavily armored thing hisses, bellows, rattles, and since it is completely blind, only uses a highly developed sense of hearing to hunt its prey. I hate to betray even a pre-credit plot-point, but damn if Beau doesn’t pay the ultimate price for breaking this one very crucial rule: do not make a sound!

Fast forward about 320 days or so. More info has been gleaned, stricter rules have been established. Turns out that, while the globe has been ravaged by these odious ghouls, a confirmed count of just three monsters are in the immediate area where the grief-stricken Abbotts now dwell – a cornfield farmhouse that Lee has reinforced with soundproofing, lining the entire property with communicative lights and motion sensors. White lights mean everything is safe, red lights spell doom. The perimeter has been lined with sand Lee has collected, for walking on barefooted without making much noise. All logistical contingencies have been thought of. They’re learning to coexist. Except for one vital fact: Evelyn is nine months pregnant! How the hell can she possibly deliver a baby in total silence, particularly when an inadvertently made noise has already summoned at least one of the ghastly beasts to their abode? Moreover, how can Lee protect his family from suffering the same tragedy that happened less than a year earlier?

There are many facets to why A QUIET PLACE excels as not just a highly entertaining thriller, but as a powerfully emotive monster movie as well. It starts with great primacy on the page. The clear and concentrated premise screenwriters Bryan Woods and Scott Beck have laid out here, the laws upon which the entire drama hinges, the highest of stakes that have been proclaimed and the steadfast temerity to enforce these rules all the way through, forcing the audience to adhere to them as well, cannot be overlooked as to why such a sturdy plot structure exists. But it’s not just the premise. Thematically, the story operates on such universally recognizable issues as guilt, regret, family teamwork, sacrifice and ultimately, rebirth. These aren’t preached upon, mind you, they’re instead masterfully woven into a screenplay that, for as much bona fide horror as it delivers, and it does deliver some icky exploits, gives in equal measure a profoundly moving conclusion. A well earned one at that!

The character interplay in the movie is what motivates the actions of the plot, which is always how a movie should derive, but the way they do so is also quite emotional at times. Not only does every character serve a key function, with real contributions to make, each interrelationship is different. Lee emboldens Marcus, but overprotects Regan. Regan feels guilt for her little brother’s death, Marcus consoles her. These character driven examples are what end up serving the plot, which bears fruit with satisfying circularity in the end. Things come full circle in a way that, like just about every other aspect of the film, feels right and true. This extends from the screenplay to the acting by all involved, who are fully committed to doing the material justice without a wink, nod or false step. Blunt probably has the heaviest lifting in a physically grueling performance that calls for her to endure immense amounts of pain and stay under constant siege while remaining as silent as possible. Krasinski’s equally game, as are the kids, with a particular standout from Simmonds as the afflicted but righteously empowered Regan.

The only qualms I can count here include some dubious time compressions in the third act. One involves the delivery time of Evelyn’s newborn, another dealing with an abrupt cut from dusk to dawn that sapped all believability for a quick second. Also, the monsters, while requisitely freaky, did seem a bit derivative of some classic horror hybrids we’ve seen prior. But these are minor quibbles at best, betting that, based on the jam-packed theater I went to at 7PM Thursday night, Platinum Dunes has both a critical and commercial hit on its hands. A QUIET PLACE not only props up an exhilarating premise, it executes it with near pitch-perfect precision. It imposes its own rules, stands by them, and through well drawn character motivation, allows for a surprisingly touching family-drama-monster-movie to unfurl. The script is airtight, the acting is dedicated, the direction is swiftly assured, the drama is weighty and the horror is harrying. What, you wanted peace in A QUIET PLACE?

A Quiet Place



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Jake Dee is one of JoBlo’s most valued script writers, having written extensive, deep dives as a writer on WTF Happened to this Movie and it’s spin-off, WTF Really Happened to This Movie. In addition to video scripts, Jake has written news articles, movie reviews, book reviews, script reviews, set visits, Top 10 Lists (The Horror Ten Spot), Feature Articles The Test of Time and The Black Sheep, and more.