The Bock’s Office: ‘A Quiet Place’ — They’re here, they hear, get used to it
Any movie or TV show about an apocalyptic scenario is bound to have a niche audience of doomsday preppers and survivalists who almost wish it would come to fruition. Then you have a film like “A Quiet Place,” which should have that crowd squealing with glee, were it not breaking the cardinal rule.
In the near future, humanity has been all but wiped out with the arrival of a race of creatures that are nearly indestructible. The monstrous beasts are well armored and vicious, compensating for a lack of sight with extra-sensitive hearing capabilities that makes them unstoppable hunters.
Most of the world’s populace has been slow to learn this fact, but the dwindling amount of survivors have stayed alive due to endless caution in doing everything they can to limit their noise.
Among them are the Abbott family — parents Evelyn and Lee (Emily Blunt, John Krasinski), daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and son Marcus (Noah Jupe), all of whom have learned the hard way about the consequences of making any mistakes.
But, even with strict protocol to keep the creatures at bay and not attract any attention, there is no perfectly foolproof way to avoid any encounters.
Krasinski’s easygoing charm has been his chief trait in many movies, but that’s not to say he can’t play the strong, silent type, especially when it’s not optional. He does a phenomenal job as a father 10 times more cautious than your average dad about every second of the day, whether it’s refreshing a trail of silencing sand for his charges to walk on through the woods or studying old news reports of the monsters to discover a weakness.
Real-life wife Blunt matches him step for step as his spouse, attempting to instill a sense of normalcy into a family that’s always on edge with everyday tasks like math homework and chores. At the same time, she’s nearing her third trimester with their latest child, with plans for a smooth delivery.
Yep, one of those silent births you hear so much about, plus a baby that won’t make a single sound.
Jupe is fine as the boy who’s even more jittery than he has to be in these trying times, but it’s Simmonds who’s the real star as hearing-impaired Regan.
After a transformative debut in last year’s “Wonderstruck,” the young actress speaks volumes without ever uttering a word as an adolescent girl tired of being viewed as the most vulnerable member of her family due to her deafness, frustrated with a cochlear implant that won’t function right and also being hit the hardest by a tragedy that has made the clan more cautious than ever before.
There’s minimal spoken dialogue but plenty of communication thanks to American Sign Language that allows this group to say what needs to be said, though even that isn’t a necessity when you have a cast that can convey most emotions through grim visages.
As a director and co-writer, Krasinski is smart enough to know that sound is what makes or breaks any horror movie, so turning audio into the entire focal point is the ultimate turn with long stretches of silence permeated by dramatic musical tones by composer Marco Beltrami.
The smallest sounds, such as heavy breathing or a game of Monopoly with felt pieces, reverberate in viewer’s chests as they wonder if this will be the noise that means our heroes’ downfall, taking nothing for granted in a collective sense of dread.
If tension can be measured on a scale of 1 to 10, it never drops below an 8 here, and Krasinski is able to push it to 11 at the film’s most unnerving moments as all hell breaks loose in an outcome the family can’t control for all their preparation.
The only thing that keeps it from being an altogether perfect portrait of suspense with art house sensibilities is the little bits of Hollywood that sneak in, with a plot that’s more pieced together than a natural flow, coupled with a denouement that’s telegraphed well in advance.
Besides being a well-crafted suspense feature, “A Quiet Place” is more importantly a look at the familial bond that strengthens in the worst circumstances, not to mention a movie that’s more accessible than most for those with hearing difficulties, even empowering at times.
And, to any who are making a racket in the theater while watching, there’s no more crucial time to just shush.