Jeepers. Imagine your worst fears and multiply them by about 100. In A Quiet Place from John Krasinski who directs and stars alongside his wife Emily Blunt, this Al-List real life couple play an onscreen couple on a farm in the aftermath of an alien invasion a few years from now.
We know this from the eerily empty streets of their local town “Spring Creek” (?) where they have ventured to gather medication for one of their three young kids.
As the family pick their way through an abandoned store we see their eldest child, a daughter is deaf, and she wears a hearing device that doesn’t work. Their middle child, a boy is unwell and their youngest child, another boy, wants to get his hands on a space shuttle toy that sits up high on an out of reach shelf.
As he climbs atop a box and struggles to grasp the toy, he knocks it from the shelf and just before it can hit the ground his sister slides in for the catch of the year.
It’s lucky she does take the catch, as the only other inhabitants of the region are sinister creatures who are blind, and hunt by sound. Dubbed “dark angels” by the newspapers before they stopped being printed these monsters have infiltrated every corner of the globe and are impervious to human attempts to eradicate them.
For a film with a small amount of dialogue, some sign language and lots of furtive glances, the cast do a marvellous job of conveying emotion silently and moving the plot along with deeds, not words.
Much like Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water, these actors work overtime to express what they are feeling noiselessly and this helps to draw the audience into a tense situation.
As they return from their “shopping expedition” the family make their way through the streets of their town and across a bridge back towards the farm. When one of the children inadvertently makes a sound, a creature pounces and the family shrinks by one member.
We leap forward by about a year and Emily Blunt’s character is pregnant. Clearly this presents an entirely fresh set of challenges for newborn babies tend to make a lot of noise, not to mention the noisy and painful experience of childbirth.
It is within the detail of the film that the simple things are also revealed to be the most genius aspects of the story. Having learnt to adapt by communicating without speaking, the family have invented a myriad of methods for going about daily life without making a sound.
They go without plates and cook food under the floorboards in a primitive oven. Anything that could make a sound has been eliminated from their routine.
Even so it is no life for a human being, and they seem to be holding out for some kind of rescue, while also recognising the need to be completely self sufficient to survive.
With no apparent weaknesses in the creatures, life continues under a regime of silence, for fear of alerting the beasts to the family’s existence.
To say much more would ruin the plentiful surprises that await the brave cinemagoer and this film is a white knuckle ride into original territory. Like a lost Stephen King tale, A Quiet Place joins the ranks of classic horror stories, and redefines what it is to watch a movie on the edge of your seat.
Blunt equals or betters her outstanding performances in films like Sicario and the hugely underrated Edge of Tomorrow, the young cast members Millicent Simmons (Wonderstruck) and Noah Jupe (The Night Manager) are excellent and Krasinski is not only a natural in front of the camera, but now evidently behind it as well.
4 Stars – “Redefines Edge of Your Seat Thrills”