The primary gimmick of A Quiet Place is, as the title suggests, that none of the characters can make noise lest they meet a nasty end in the jaws of a vicious pack of aliens that hunt using sound. Two years into life in a silent world, a family of four struggle to survive by living off the land with the daunting prospect of a baby on the way. While certainly a tense viewing experience which is far more creative than the bog-standard Hollywood horror flick, A Quiet Place isn’t quite as revolutionary as some would have you believe.
John Krasinski and Emily Blunt are great in the lead roles, embracing the challenge of having to perform their lines primarily through sign language. Their on-screen children are played by newcomers Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe, who both deliver serviceable performances. As far as child actors go they certainly aren’t bad, but nor are they particularly impressive.
The real issue lies in how undeveloped their family dynamic is. Krasinski and Blunt have a seemingly perfect marriage and never argue despite the extremely stressful circumstances they find themselves in. A certain amount of father-daughter drama is attempted, but fails to have the emotional impact necessary for such a plot to work.
Without a huge amount of interest in the characters, the film becomes more about the setpieces and scares of which there are many. While undoubtedly well shot and well choreographed, it’s a shame that the film’s central conceit ultimately ends up becoming a bit tedious. The long bouts of silence in A Quiet Place mean that the majority of the frights come from jump-scares where loud noises startle the viewer. In any other horror movie this would be criticised for being lazy, but here there is at least a plot justification for their prominence. Nonetheless, by the end of the movie they do start wearing out their welcome.
A Quiet Place is a very competently made film. It looks nice, it’s well acted for the most part and there are some genuine thrills to be had here and there. However, the lack of character depth and reliance on jump scares prevent it from reaching its full potential. It’s an interesting experiment and will surely kick Krasinski’s directing career into high gear, but it seems unlikely that it will stand the test of time.