Arts & Entertainment

“A Quiet Place” Scares with Silence

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“A Quiet Place” has a straightforward premise, and no distractions. Audiences don’t know the character’s names until the credits roll, and this puts the focus on the suspense and character development. It builds its exposition efficiently in the first half, and the second half is an exciting, tension-filled ride resulting in an empowering ending.

John Krasinski (“The Office”) strayed from his comical repertoire to direct the horror movie driven by sound and the lack of it to viewers.

“A Quiet Place” opens 89 days into the aftermath of the invasion of blind monsters who rely on sound to navigate and hunt prey. Krasinski and Emily Blunt (“The Girl on the Train”) — who are married in real life — portray the protagonists who must raise their three children played by Noah Jupe (“Wonder”), Cade Woodward and Millicent Simmonds (“Wonderstruck”) in silence.

Simmonds, a deaf actress, plays the family’s hearing-impaired daughter. Having a deaf actress play a deaf character provides a more genuine viewing experience, and audiences will likely enjoy her role as a key player in the movie.

The family lives in a secluded farmhouse and uses crafty techniques to live a quiet, semi-normal life. The floor is marked where it’s safe to step without causing the boards to creak, the kids play monopoly with soft pieces of felt and pom poms and the family communicates in sign language.

“A Quiet Place” doesn’t give viewers much background about what happened, except acknowledging there was a worldwide attack by destructive monsters with sensitive hearing.

Since the family lives in silence, each little sound is amplified — from a lamp being knocked over to a beeping child’s toy. Screams are explosive. And silence builds tension.

A music score adds to the tension occasionally, but the movie would benefit without it.

Sound design is at the forefront of “A Quiet Place,” and it brings perspective into the film’s scenes. Sometimes the scene is completely muted, and audiences are drawn into the deaf daughter’s own silent world. In another scene, a crashing waterfall masks human conversation, illustrating one of Krasinski’s character’s safety tactics.

By day 472 after the invasion, the family of five is down to four. New challenges arise for the family to tackle. The man (Krasinski) is busy trying to figure out the monsters’ weaknesses while creating a hearing aid for his deaf daughter. The woman (Blunt) is preparing to give birth and raise a baby — generally a noisy situation all around.

Characters in horror movies tend to make illogical decisions, and in “A Quiet Place,” the woman’s pregnancy is the reckless choice.

In one of the few spoken conversations, the woman emphasizes the importance of protecting the kids.

“Who are we if we can’t protect them?” she said.

Still, she and the man conceive a child during this time, and they have to figure out how to handle it without triggering the always-listening monsters. This was terrible risk management on the couple’s part.

However, this flaw doesn’t ruin the experience of watching the movie. The non-verbal dialogue drives the human arc of the plot. A glance or gesture speaks volumes, and viewers will likely become emotionally invested in each family member making some scenes especially difficult to watch.

“A Quiet Place” is now playing in theaters nationwide.

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