By Dave Smith, Contributor, USDR.
“Speech is of Time, Silence is of Eternity.” – Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus
Nowhere is the sentiment – often rephrased as “silence is golden” – truer than in the new thriller from John Krasinski, A Quiet Place. The movie is set in a world where the arrival of predatory monsters has depleted the population. The monsters, who remain largely unseen for most of the movie, are blind and hunt based on sound. Thus, silence is a necessity for remaining alive.
In addition to directing and co-writing the screenplay, Krasinski plays the father of a family struggling to stay alive in this world where even a sneeze or a small toy could mean death at the hands these beasts. The movie begins 89 days after the arrival of the monsters, providing a picture of the desolation the monsters have wrought as well as a demonstration of their gruesome power and ferocity. The story then fast-forwards approximately one year to show the Abbott family settled in to their new reality.
Krasinski has crafted a masterpiece of surprise and anxiety, and he and real-life wife Emily Blunt do an excellent job of portraying the care and fear the parents have in trying to keep their children and each other safe. Lee and Evelyn Abbott have meticulously setup a system for sound suppression and early warnings, while he tries to communicate with someone – anyone – in the world for rescue. Sand walkways, warning lights, and even Monopoly pieces made of cloth are all precautions taken to maintain silence. Sign language is their form of communication. Lee has catalogued what he’s learned about the creatures.
It’s the daughter Regan, however, that steals the show. Played by Millicent Simmonds, who is herself deaf, Regan is the central character as she deals with guilt, fear, and anger. Her world truly is a quiet place, while her brother and parents are living in a new world that is alien to them. Simmonds masterfully portrays the range of emotion of young Regan Abbott, showing bravery in the face of danger and frustration at her disability.
As the name and the plotline suggest, there is very little dialog in the movie. It isn’t needed. There’s the adage that loss of one sense heightens the others, and the lack of dialog and importance of silence in this movie serves to heighten the viewer’s attention to detail and increase the tension and anxiety. Krasinski uses many of the common thriller-movie elements – the movie could fit in well with the Cloverfield franchise or early M. Night Shyamalan films – but they never seem cliched. The characters invite empathy, allowing you to feel their claustrophobia and sense of constantly being on edge, constantly having to fear for their lives.
A Quiet Place is the best type of horror-thriller movie: the kind that depends on psychology more than rampant special effects or slasher-style bloodbaths. The idea of monsters lurking just out of sight is of course nothing new, but with this movie, John Krasinski has brought a new creative element to the plot device. It will be interesting to see if he stays with this genre or if he branches out into other avenues.
If you’re looking for an exciting, well crafted thriller, this is definitely a recommended film. Just remember to turn off your cell phone ringer – silence is golden, after all.
Born in the same county as Davy Crockett in East Tennessee, Dave found his way to Texas where he works in the petrochemical industry. He’s written and spoken about politics on various media outlets including Fox, ABC, and Townhall. He is a graduate of Tennessee Tech with a degree in chemical engineering. Follow Dave on Twitter: @semperlibertas.