Horror movie history was made the weekend of April 6th as millions of people flocked to theaters to watch John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place, a post-apocalyptic thriller set in the near-future. It is currently on track to become the biggest domestic grossing film of the month and the second biggest of the year, next to Black Panther. Traditionally, most horror movies become box-office flops that spend no more than three weekends in theaters. So what makes A Quiet Place different? As a self-proclaimed horror fanatic, I was excited to see the film last weekend and determine whether or not it was worth the hype. After all, how great can a horror movie be with Jim Halpert as the leading role? Apparently, pretty great.
A Quiet Place takes place in a post-apocalyptic America, in which alien-like creatures have taken over the world and few survivors remain. Here’s the catch: the aliens (which look suspiciously like Stranger Thing’s Demogorgons) are blind, but they have incredible hearing. Director and leading man John Krasinski, along with his real-life wife Emily Blunt, are determined to keep their family alive amidst chaos. Although the action and intensity were thoroughly impressive, some of the most interesting parts of the film involved the family’s everyday chores – how they achieved a “normal” life in complete silence. Everyone, including the youngest child, uses sign language fluently. The family developed a light system to signal times of danger, and most of their yard is covered in sand so that they can walk without cracking leaves or making too much noise. It’s evident that the creators of the film spent a lot of time thinking about and crafting this insane world.
The acting in A Quiet Place deserves special recognition because, evidently, there is very little dialogue in the film. The only cast members are Krasinski, Blunt, and two children, and they say, at most, a few words to each other. The majority of communication occurs through sign language and facial expression. At first, I was worried that this aspect of the film would be hard to follow, but each actor ended up doing an incredible job portraying their respective characters with wordless action. Millicent Simmonds, who plays the oldest child, does a particularly excellent job because her character is pretty complex – she was born deaf and makes quite a few life-risking mistakes due to her condition. In a world where noise and hearing are crucial, Simmonds’s character struggles mentally and emotionally throughout the film. I found myself tearing up with the character as she throws another broken hearing piece to the ground and shakes her hands in fury. Her obvious, yet wordless, frustration was amazing to watch.
Another reason I was thoroughly impressed with A Quiet Place was that of the emotional family aspect of the film. In an interview, John Krasinski shared that the movie was like a “love letter” to his children. He wanted to show them that he would do anything to protect them, no matter what the cost. He and Emily had just had their second daughter, which made the filming process even more intense. A Quiet Place is just as emotional as it is nerve-wracking, and for good reason! Just imagine being a parent of two young kids in that situation. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt’s acting is impressive because it is real. Their desperation and fear for their family in the film is a true reflection of what they feel for their children and I couldn’t help but feel their fear, too. I was very emotionally attached to the characters in the movie, and I’m an extremely emotional person as it is, so I cried a lot. It’s pretty cool that John Krasinski was able to make a horror movie that broke such a strong emotional barrier.
The actual “scary” aspect of the film relied more on suspense than big scares. Don’t get me wrong, the monsters were super freaky, not to mention that they were fast and virtually undefeatable. However, it takes a lot to scare me at this point, and I would say I was more stressed than afraid. Personally, I wouldn’t categorize this as a “horror” film. To me, it was more of a suspenseful drama. Parts of it brought me to tears, while others had me clinging nervously to the edge of my seat. While it didn’t hit the bullseye on the horror scale, A Quiet Place was definitely worth the watch for the great acting and high-quality suspense. Although I cried four or more times, I would definitely see it again.