Awaited thriller amazes with emotional tension, suspenseful filming techniques

To fans of hit sitcom, “The Office,” John Krasinski is best known for his role as sarcastic salesman Jim Halpert, as well as his directing and producing. Beloved for his wit, Krasinski took the next logical step of directing and starring in the latest post-apocalyptic thriller, A Quiet Place. 

A Quiet Place tells the story of Evelyn and Lee Abbott—played by Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, respectively—as they attempt to raise their three children and stay alive during an apocalypse. This event is triggered by blind arachnid-like creatures, which killed most of the human population. The creatures’ advanced sense of hearing allows them to hunt humans down. These capabilities mean that survivors must adapt to a world of silence, since any sound—from a soft whisper to the light plop of a falling wallet—can mean death.

For those expecting a fast-paced thrill-fest, which many of the trailers for this film advertised, A Quiet Place will disappoint. There are a few jump scares and bloody scenes, but nothing terribly frightening. The film retains a fairly slow pace with a focus on suspense and drama. In these regards, the film is fantastic. 

The highlight of A Quiet Place is undoubtedly its sound design. The film noticeably lacks a score or spoken dialogue and the family often uses sign language to communicate without being heard. 

Ambient sound and silence mainly drive A Quiet Place. The volume of typically mundane actions, like a child dropping a toy or someone moving pill bottles on a shelf, seems much louder. The audience concentrates on how much noise the family is making with each minuscule movement, which increases the tension. 

Evelyn and Lee’s daughter, Regan—played by Millicent Simmonds—is deaf. The director often switches between her perspective and those of other family members. This technique causes all the sounds to drown out and leaves viewers with silent images as they wait tensely for terror to strike. Such an editing choice works well with the premise of the film and allows for some significant scares. 

In addition to superb sound design, the writing is phenomenal. The story places an emphasis on family dynamics that are often absent from horror movies. On top of the violent external threat they are forced to face, the family members have their own personal problems. These dramatic scenes successfully add emotional depth to each character, allowing the audience to become more invested. 

Stellar performances further develop the suspenseful and emotional elements of the movie. Blunt and Krasinski—who are married with two children in real life—are both convincing in their roles. Krasinski in particular has some tense and touching scenes with the family. Simmonds and the other two child actors—Noah Jupe and Cade Woodward—exercise mature levels of talent in the film. 

Visually, the film is hit or miss. It is professionally shot, but the main eyesore on screen are the creatures. The film does a good job keeping the creatures hidden in some scenes to increase suspense, and a few of the CGI renderings of the creatures themselves are convincing. Other scenes, however, depict the creatures as unrealistic and poorly designed, which can hurt a viewer’s immersion.

Overall, the stellar writing, acting and casting design of A Quiet Place give the film credibility. While not particularly scary, the suspense and dramatic pull of each element make it worth a watch.