Last year, Jordan Peele gave us one of the best films of 2017 in his directorial debut Get Out; following in a similar vein, John Krasinski also does a 360-genre spin to tackle the chilling A Quiet Place – and it might be one of the best films of this year.
Comedic talent branching into directing horror has perhaps become a bit of a fad recently, this time with Krasinski leaving The Office stardom at the door for his latest project, the horror-thriller A Quiet Place – which he co-wrote, directed and starred in. Set in a post-apocalyptic near-future, the story follows a family trying to survive in silence; if they make a sound too loud, the monstrous creatures in the area – preying on sound – will hear them and kill them. It’s a simple premise yet effective for the nature of the film: monster hear, monster kill and silence is of the utmost importance to survival. Krasinski really shows that less is more here, telling a story not focused on semantics but, instead, on its central family – he sets up a world and just lets his characters loose in this environment, watching them interact and deal with the horrible circumstances that the situation presents.
But where A Quiet Place succeeds where other horror films fail is in crafting such genuine and likable characters. The family dynamic between Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds is superbly realised; we believe them as a family and invest in their characters – so much so that when the chaos does arise, we can feel the stakes and the weight which adds a whole layer of terror to the horror because of how much we find ourselves caring for these people. It’s a testament to the writing and direction, especially given that dialogue is used very sparingly and the characters are built through interactions and subtlety in their actions. The performances are equally as exquisite; everyone delivers exceptional work: Krasinski and Blunt are a terrific pairing, their real-life husband/wife relationship shining into their magnetic chemistry on-screen – Blunt, especially, is a tour-de-force in a particular scene that is so demanding of any actor, you’ll have your jaw-dropped wondering how she pulled it off with such conviction and seeming ease. Jupe and Simmonds are also as brilliant, giving two of the best child performances I’ve seen in a horror film perhaps ever – the latter, who is deaf in real-life, follows up a mesmerising debut in Wonderstruck – and it’s easy to see them both going on to exciting careers and projects in the coming years.
Of course, silence is a big player in this film – to the point where it’s almost a character of its own, in just how important it is. The sound design for A Quiet Place is astonishingly crafted; every little detail, from the smallest and sharpest of breaths to the loudest of creature growls and everything in-between, can be felt with piercing urgency – every action is fuelled with caution and tension. Just exactly what sounds will cause the family’s downfall remain ambiguous and Krasinski finds a lot of horror and thrills in toying with this idea. The scares here feel genuine and earned; the jump-scares are never gimmicky but are intelligently executed in a way that makes them feel fresh and effective in a way that jump scares have not been in years in this genre. But more so than outright scares, this film is a superb exercise in nerve-shredding tension – the kind so intense, you’ll be squirming in your seat, waiting for a moment of sweet relief to exhale. A Quiet Place really puts a new spin on “edge of your seat” chills – the kind of claustrophobic atmosphere that will have you gripping your seat until your hands hurt, enthralled yet suffocated like a snake coiled around its prey. It’s here where the unpredictability of the premise works at its finest. But what keeps this horror more investing than most is that Krasinski manages to find the heart within this story and ground it with a surprising emotional core that feels necessary for making this film as effective as it is. Horror filmmakers, take note: we care. And that’s what makes A Quiet Place so scary. The stakes.
Best known up until now for his lovable portrayal of the warm Jim Harper in The Office, John Krasinski does a full 360 with his latest directing effort. A Quiet Place is amongst the very best of modern horror – earning itself a spot alongside recent greats the likes of The Babadook, It Follows, and Get Out. Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s cinematography is stunning, dripping with unnerving reds and bursting with exuberance and inventiveness; Marco Beltrami’s score, whilst used in small doses, is brilliant in orchestrating scenes of fear and heart too. There are perhaps a few too many glaring plot-holes to really keep A Quiet Place from being a masterpiece but, when you’re drenched in the film’s atmospheric grip and tension, it’s not something that detracts from the viewing experience all that much. This is a superb exercise in relentless fear and storytelling – a film that elegantly sets its characters, its story and its world all up with such depth and with such little dialogue. It seamlessly weaves around tones and themes, never once jarring; this is a film directed with passion and serious craft, finding the humanity in such a harrowing situation to really keep it grounded and authentic. The use of silence in a horror film has never been scarier; Krasinski takes a lot of familiar tropes and reinvigorates them in ways that feel fresh, intelligent and necessary for this film to pack the wallop it does. Never has a horror film been so beautiful and sincere yet so genuinely terrifying at the same time. Hats off to you, Mr. Krasinski.
About the Author
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.