Entertainment

'A Quiet Place' Will Scare the Sh*t Out of You with Absolute Silence

Not every horror movie has have to a novel "hook" to win over its audience -- but it sure as hell doesn't hurt. In recent years horror fans have enjoyed "high-concept" horror flicks like Get Out, The Gift, and Hush because they pair well-calibrated craft with a creative twist that sucks the viewer in to the scary stuff. Hush follows a deaf-mute as she's stalked by a classic slasher-type. Jordan Peele drenched his Oscar-winning horror flick with social commentary and laughs. These movies don’t stop at the scares — but they make good on those, too.

Now we can add a new title to that list: John Krasinski's A Quiet Place. Yes, The Office favorite is not only a leading man here, but also the director and co-writer. The movie arrives this spring bearing a very enticing hook, which it quickly exploits in all sorts of clever, engaging, and creepy fashion. Beware of minor spoilers as I gush a bit.

Krasinski and his costar Emily Blunt -- married in real life, for those who were unaware -- play a pair of doting and devoted parents who do all they can to protect their children from mysterious creatures that have seemingly destroyed most of the outside world. But, to it's credit, A Quiet Place is not about the outside world. It's about one small family struggling to survive a world, a home life, gone insane. 

a quiet place john krasinski
Paramount Pictures

In true Twilight Zone fashion, A Quiet Place delivers its creepy goods in a remarkably smooth and efficient manner; we only get bits and pieces of the plainly apocalyptic backstory, a narrative approach that serves to heighten the mystery, the suspense, and the attentive viewer's enjoyment level. Krasinski and his sound designers get a lot of mileage out of one simple conceit: these monsters are blind, which means that our survivors have to live every day in a state of virtual silence.

Parents will immediately relate to what A Quiet Place has to offer. The screenwriters provide us with a few teasing hints as to how the planet became unglued, but at its heart this is a film about parents intent on protecting their children at any cost, and from any... thing. We come to care for the parents -- despite a premise that doesn't allow for very much traditional character development -- and that's what makes the scary and suspenseful moments work so well. From their (hopefully) hidden refuge in the woods to their elaborate safety procedures, these parents are plainly intent on keeping their children away from the creatures' horrific grasp. It's literally their children only priority

Loud noises attract the creatures, and once they hear you, you're toast. Herein likes one of the film's coolest assets: not only is A Quiet Place peppered with all sorts of creepy aural trickery, but the hushed whispers and frequent use of sign language do a phenomenal job of selling the hook: that any loud noise can spell your (almost) instant demise.  It's almost like the kitchen sequence in Jurassic Park stretched out to feature length.  So even when A Quiet Place is focused on its more sedate moments, the threat of a dropped can or accidental yelp are palpable on every scene.

For those who are slightly more interested in slam-bang scares than in themes and subtext, here's some good news: A Quiet Place offers at least a half-dozen moments that'll have you screaming, squirming, or squeezing someone's hand. I won't spoil the twists, but let's just say, if you think it'd be impossible for a family to live in complete silence, Krasinski raises the stakes and keeps you interested with this wrinkle: Blunt's mother character is pregnant... and about ready to deliver. 

Krasinski and Blunt provide excellent performances, as do the young actors who play their kids, but the creatures are often the stars here. The screenplay provides a canny balance between delicious suspense and shocking horror. On the whole there's just a lot to be impressed with here, doubly so if you love horror that not only delivers the creepy goods, but also offer a good deal of ingenuity in how they doll out the creepy goods, see this movie.

A Quiet Place opens on April 6.

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Scott Weinberg is a film writer and critic who has written for outlets such as Playboy, FEARnet, and Nerdist. He tweets @scotteweinberg but ignores mean people.