July 6, 2018
Box Office $187.28 million;
$29.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $34.99 UHD Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for terror and some bloody images.
Stars Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe.
Sometimes the simplest concepts, when engineered properly, can produce the most effective films.
A Quiet Place is based on the basic idea of a family that can’t make a sound as they try to survive isolated from the rest of the world. A cataclysmic event has resulted in the planet being roamed by fierce creatures that hunt by sound, so any noise will attract them.
This sets the stage for a visceral viewing experience, with minimal dialogue and even the slightest noise proving to be a source of great tension.
The final form of the story was developed and directed by John Krasinski, who also stars as the father alongside his real-life wife, Emily Blunt. The film begins as they and their three children are rummaging for supplies in a local abandoned town. But their youngest son isn’t quite aware of the danger of playing with a loud, flashy toy out in the open, and he gets snatched by a creature.
Cut to a year later, and the mother is pregnant again as the family still struggles to cope with the child’s death. The natural tendency upon hearing the film’s premise is to wonder how they can possibly avoid making any sounds, given the potential for noise in so many mundane activities, not to mention bodily processes — for example, how can someone give birth without so much as a peep?
Well, the beauty of the film is the way it sidesteps some logistical issues by addressing others, and the potential dangers of childbirth, not to mention the potential for a crying newborn, are at the forefront of the family’s lifestyle. The film is rather clever in showing how the family has adapted everyday tasks to minimize the noise output involved. And yet, sounds remain unavoidable. That the judicious use of sound in the film so effectively contributes to an overwhelming sense of fear is due in no small part to the film’s brilliant sound design and editing.
A Quiet Place is something of a throwback to the silent film era in that regard, though it’s not being presented as some grand experiment in the genre.
The minimal dialogue also sets the stage for some terrific visual performances by the entire cast. The family primarily communicates through sign language, which comes in handy given their circumstances but is also a necessity given the daughter is deaf — which ironically becomes a major challenge in a world where sound invites death, since it helps to know when sounds are being made. The actress who plays the daughter, Millicent Simmonds, is deaf in real life, which adds to the film’s sense of realism.
Krasinski has crafted a beautiful-looking film as well, with lush farmlands that appear inviting in daytime turning to foreboding landscapes hiding all sorts of dangers at night. Not that it matters with these creatures, who will attack whenever.
The Blu-ray includes three short but effective behind-the-scenes featurettes that run a bit more than a half-hour in total. One is a general making-of piece running about 15 minutes, the others focus on sound design and visual effects, respectively.