The sound of fear
John Krasinski accomplished the near impossible with ‘A Quiet Place’
Agood horror movie, at least to this writer’s mind, is made of several tried and true formulas. Some are easy to spot, such as an unspecified dread created through lighting and sound effects, the protagonist walking backwards into a darkened room, and, of course, a lesser character saying something like “what’s there to be afraid of …” right before disappearing into the jaws of a Tom Savini-designed vampire.
Ultimately, it gets old if you’ve seen enough.
The thing about “A Quiet Place” is that it takes all the basic movie horror tropes and artfully pares away the stuff that makes a jaded audience go “oh, please.” What director and star John Krasinski has done, in fact, is to make horror scary again.
Much of this is accomplished by setting up some very rigid rules by which the filmmaker and actors all have to religiously abide. These rules are explained without the use of expository lumps mainly because the movie contains very little spoken dialogue. We see how these rules are vitally important to follow, because if you don’t, a gruesome death may befall your innocent little self.
The gist of it is, the world has been invaded by predatory alien creatures who have wiped out what we presume to be most of humanity. These creatures are blind, but they react with unbelievable swiftness, coming out of nowhere to destroy anything making noise of any kind. So, if you want to survive, you must be absolutely quiet, without exception.
Into this dangerous setting we follow a fairly typical family: mom and dad, Evelyn and Lee Abbott (real-life marrieds Emily Blunt and John Krasinski), and their kids Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe), and Beau (Cade Woodward). The Abbotts have managed to make their way into a rural area where they scavenge for food and look for shelter.
But, this family is made up of members who know what the rules are. There’s no typical whining and talking back and no petulant behavior that is a hallmark of sitcomstyle families so common today. Actually, though, there is one instance and yet another that give the audience a glimpse of horrifying consequences for not following the rules.
This movie is unrelentingly suspenseful, especially after we learn that Evelyn has become pregnant. TEMPO GRADE: At that point, the audience can mentally jump forward to suspect what may lie ahead.
One of the other things Krasinski has done is to incorporate the ways a disability may figure into the plot. The Abbotts’ daughter, Regan, is deaf.
Played by real-life deaf actor, Millicent Simmonds, who made a big impression with her first starring role in “Wonderstruck,” Regan seems to have entered a world that in some ways also plays by her rules. To communicate, the family must use American Sign Language to give directions, talk about important things and keep each other informed. Watch her performance to pick up certain clues for how things are turning out.
Now, this is no PBS-style Masterpiece Theater comfy flick. Audiences should know this is a seriously scary movie, and there are some fairly graphic depictions of gore. But, it is one of the best, most original-seeming movie in quite some time.
“A Quiet Place” is rated PG-13 for terror and some bloody images.
It is showing daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.
NOAH JUPE plays Marcus Abbott and John Krasinski plays Lee Abbott in “A Quiet Place.”
MILLICENT SIMMONDS and Noah Jupe in a run to find a safe spot.
EMILY BLUNT as Evelyn Abbott tries hard to be very, very quiet.