“A Quiet Place”
1 hour, 30 minutes
This week on the radio show I co-host where we talk all about the movies, the topic was TV stars who made the leap to the big screen, in honor of this week’s film, “A Quiet Place,” starring Jim from “The Office.”
Well, not really — the movie stars (as well as having been written and directed) John Krasinkski, but the guy became such a household name during his nine seasons on that incredibly popular show, that it’s hard to think of him as anything but Jim.
Of course, here, Jim’s all grown up, with a full-beard and a family to protect. There’s no mugging for the camera in “A Quiet Place.”
I like Krasinski and I love Emily Blunt, his on- and off-screen wife, so I was expecting to enjoy this movie, but I didn’t expect to be as fully immersed in it as I was. The story is pretty simple: a family — I’m not sure they ever give us their names — trying to survive in a world where any noise can get you killed. There are monsters afoot that operate purely by sound, and they are vicious and quick.
One of the best things about this film is how efficient it is. It gets in and out quickly, with very little fuss. There are no long expositions, backstories, or explanations. There is ephemera in the background that can suggest plot points, if you want to look at them, but there’s never a moment where anyone explains where they think the aliens came from (if that’s what they are) or why they act as they do.
Our hero and his crew live on a farm outside a small town, the shops and services now abandoned. Soft sand has been spread on a path from the house, down the country lane, and into town, as a way to muffle steps. The family speaks in gestures and looks, often slipping into American Sign Language. Every precaution is taken, but often that isn’t enough, as we see in the film’s opening scene.
Much of the thrill in this film comes from the tension that builds up as characters tip-toe from scene to scene, trying not to make a sound. There’s a great score — the film isn’t silent, but it’s so much quieter than most movies, you can hear every crunch of popcorn, every whispered admonition, and every muffled cough in the theater.
Much like “Jaws,” the monsters aren’t seen much at all until the end. And much like another master of suspense, Krasinski sets up dangers for the family that we the audience know about, but that they don’t. A scene that is absolutely Hitchcockian involves an errant nail sticking up on a wooden stairway. It’s a brilliant set-up and a terrifying payoff.
Everyone does a great job of acting in this film, from the children, the oldest of whom truly is deaf, just as she plays in the film, and from their parents as well. There is only one non-family member role in the film, and that plays for shock value.
I was especially impressed with Krasinski and Blunt, whose concern for their children imbues every scene. Blunt, especially, displays a brilliant mix of vulnerability and steely resolve to play a woman nine-months pregnant in a place that absolutely doesn’t suffer children.
Never gory, and only rarely showing any blood, “A Quiet Place” is just the kind of horror I like. PG-13 ensures they can’t go too far, and have to be clever to figure out ways to scare. This film has some good jump-scares, but also digs deep on the psychological terror.
Short and sweet, the movie has a perfect ending, making for a perfect date night out. We may not get to see him on TV every week anymore, but Jim is still looking out for us. Thanks Halpert!
“A Quiet Place” is rated PG-13 for creature violence, some blood, and traumatic scenes.
Chris Jenness is an art teacher, freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.