John Krasinski, is best known for his role as Jim Halpert, the lovable guy from the US version of The Office. While this memorable role was his “lottery ticket” after doing a few commercials and off-broadway shows, he’s quickly making a name for himself as an actor and director. While the upbeat, quirky comedy gem, The Hollars, didn’t quite make much of a splash beyond Sundance… it signaled Krasinski’s intent to become more integrated into film-making, having directed a few episodes of The Office.
While funny at times, it was equally touching, dealing with a slightly dysfunctional family banding together. Who knew that his follow-up, which also deals with a family unifying under trying times, would be a horror sci-fi thriller? While Krasinski admittedly isn’t a big fan of horror, he’s composed a film with a great understanding of suspense leveraging a clever cinematic concept and throwing us in the deep end as a family try to survive in a post apocalyptic world dominated by noise-hunting creatures.
Essentially, A Quiet Place is about family, which is probably why it’s much more substantial and relatable than most horror sci-fi thriller movies. Strong, heartfelt performances from a tight-knit family unit drive the emotional core of this film. Krasinski and his wife, Emily Blunt, take the co-leads… a smart play in terms of built-in chemistry, history, passion and probably budget.
He’s not known for drama, but is reminiscent of an in-form and more optimistic Ben Affleck, another ambitious and talented actor-director. Blunt is a force on any day and proves her mettle with yet another strong performance alongside Krasinski. While they hold things together largely playing into their real-life relationship, they’re ably supported by their on-screen kids, the expressive Millicent Simmonds and sweet-natured Noah Jupe.
Tension mounts on the back of familiar yet beautifully integrated visual effects, minimalist sound design and Krasinski’s surprisingly deft and suspenseful direction. The creatures have been lovingly realised, not truly original in their design but effective in execution… in all senses of the word. The experience is somewhat unconventional, eerily quiet at times in a film that recalls modern silent film, The Artist. Emphasising the foley work and powering up crashes, the sound design gives one a somewhat meditative stance when you contrast how noisy our everyday lives are. Something that provokes thought as the credits roll and you realise you have to return to the noise. Operating in front and behind camera, Krasinksi knows comedy and explores his genre versatility with suspense in the realm of a horror sci-fi thriller with a strong dramatic undercurrent. While not all that scary, it is unsettling and pulsates with tension, creating a fresh new dimension through its use of sound.
A Quiet Place keeps things simple and in its favour, rather than over-explaining and manages to spin a refreshingly different horror sci-fi thriller that could be described as a blend of 10 Cloverfield Lane and Signs. The simple treatment keeps it focused, while keeping loose ends and basic guidelines around the hostile creatures helps create a sense of uneasiness. The genre mix, eerie post-apocalyptic setting, tight cast and sometimes claustrophobic, dark and tense tone have direct parallels with 10 Cloverfield Lane. While the eerie conditions, setting, family dynamic and subject matter have strong ties with Signs.
A Quiet Place manages to stay a step ahead of the audience and operates with commercial and art house appeal. While there are a few moments and scenarios that could have used a bit more thought, it’s agile and steady enough to plow through minor flaws and inconsistencies. It’s a terrific little horror that works thanks to the substantial survivalist drama at its core, imbuing heart, smarts and plenty of suspense. John Krasinski has made a much stronger impression with A Quiet Place than his directorial debut… it’s a top notch effort deserving of all the praise it’s getting.
The bottom line: Suspenseful