Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place” Is A Terrifying Work Of Art

By Scott Kurland

Film: A Quiet Place

Starring: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds. Noah Jupe, and Cade Woodward

Rated: PG-13

Director: John Krasinski

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                 What inspires fear? Well... it's the shadows that move between the trees, the scream echoing in the distance, the snapping of twigs right behind you... to put it simply, its what we can't see that makes the hairs on the back of our neck stand on end. “Jaws” was frightening because the shark hunted from below, only to surface during the final minutes of the film. “The Shining” was creepy because we never found out what it was that possessed Jack Torrence. Its not what we know, but what we don't that frightens us. This week’s film is “A Quiet Place,” the third film directed by John Krasinski from “The Office,” and it might have one of the most terrifying monsters since the Werewolf from "An American Werewolf In London." Now, let’s find out the meaning of true terror together, shall we?

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                “A Quiet Place” tells the story of the Abbott family (Blunt, Krasinski, Simmonds, Jupe, and Woodward) as they attempt to survive in the dystopic wasteland that was once their home. The world has been overtaken by creatures who use their ears rather than their eyes to hunt prey. Still reeling from the loss of their youngest child, the Abbotts wander through their small community as quietly as possible. They walk barefoot on top of sand-paved roads, they fish rather than hunt, but most importantly they try not to make any sound. So far, so good. There’s only one problem and its one Evelyn and Lee have been steadily preparing for. They are expecting a fourth child and, as we all know, babies aren’t the strong silent types. Things get worse as the creatures that surround the Abbotts begin to close in, and it’s up to both parents to protect their three remaining children.               

This movie is not only brilliant, it’s downright terrifying. The creatures themselves are the stuff of distilled nightmares. Krasinski is a very talented director, so his ability to pull off such a challenging concept comes as no surprise. His previous films “The Hollars” and “Brief Interviews With Hideous Men” are indie darlings which earned high praise from critics. What impresses me the most is how 85% of the film's dialogue is spoken using American Sign Language. In film school we were taught that, to make a great film, you need to: "show, not say." “A Quiet Place” is the epitome of that teaching. In a film whose plot is driven by silence, it is a monumentous task to capture and lay bare the thoughts and feelings of the characters on-screen. But Krasinski’s clear directing and the script he wrote with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck help clear these hurdles easily. There is a great deal of speculation as to what the meaning of this film is. Is it a metaphor for women having to remain silent? Is it about censorship? Guilt? Maybe it’s none of those things. Maybe it’s just a great scary movie.

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                It’s hard to act with dialogue, so one can only imagine what a difficult task it must be to tell a story using body language and facial expressions. This entire cast deserves a SAG nomination. The performances of Krasinski and Blunt as the frightened and protective parents are powerful. Their natural chemistry makes for some of the sweetest and heartbreaking scenes; each one showcasing love and fear. In total there are four performances in this film and they each work on different levels, but the two strongest are Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe. Simmonds is a deaf actress who starred in last year’s “Wonderstruck.” Simmonds might be my favorite part of this movie because she is the very essence of showing rather than telling. She doesn’t announce what she’s going to do or how she might save her family... she simply experiences it. It doesn’t feel like acting it feels like instinct. As for young Noah Jupe, he has to be the audience's surrogate. He’s full of fear and concerns which shape his experiences. Jupe just like Simmonds, is young but full of promising talent.

                “A Quiet Place” has a few minor flaws. In the final act, a choice is made; one that I didn’t necessarily agree with, but that's small potatoes. This is a fantastically creepy movie that terrified me. The creature design alone is horrifying. Whoever designed these monsters is a genius, but a scary one. Krasinski has successfully directed one of the scariest films I have ever seen. I was on the edge of my seat and filled with unease the entire time. Blunt, Simmonds, and Jupe along with Krasinski show us what a strong dystopian family should look like. “A Quiet Place” is a must-see film and the fact that it is only PG-13 makes it even better.

REVIEW RATING: A-

scott kurland