My sister Linda and I took advantage of our Movie Pass cards, and in my case a free movie ticket because of racked up points, to catch an afternoon matinee. I’ve been interested in the film A Quiet Place since seeing the previews. The movie released in early April, and it’s doing very well, considering its genre. We were ready to see why this monster movie has experienced such a long and successful run.
A Quiet Place stars Emily Blunt, John Krasinki, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe and Cade Woodward. This sci-fi horror was directed by John Krasinki, who also co-wrote the screenplay. The movie carries a PG-13 rating, for intense scenes of terror, and has a run time of 1 hour and 30 minutes.
The film opens on Day 89, somewhere in rural America. Lee (Krasinki) and Evelyn (Blunt) Abbott are out on a salvaging mission with their three children, Regan (Simmonds), Marcus (Jupe) and Beau (Woodward). The town they enter appears to be deserted, and the grocery store the family is loading up supplies from is dark and ransacked.
Evelyn carefully sorts through prescription bottles for a drug to give Marcus, who has been ill. The other children quietly look at items left on the shelves, searching for anything useful. When Lee appears with his backpack loaded, it’s time for the family to head home before darkness falls.
Although this appears to be a typical trip to town for the Abbotts, it’s anything but normal. The family members wear jackets, scarves and caps, and yet each of them is barefoot. And no one says a word. They communicate by sign language. The path home, through eerily silent woods, is carefully marked with a thick layer of sand to soften their footsteps.
It appears that the US, and indeed the world, has come under attack. Most of the population is gone. Those who have survived continue to do so only by remaining silent. A tragic mistake, on the way home, provides a horrifying reminder about the importance of being as quiet as possible. If you make noise, you die.
The story jumps ahead to Day 389. The Abbotts have settled into a soundless daily routine. Evelyn is very obviously nearing the end of a pregnancy. The children help with chores, receive school lessons from their mom, and play Monopoly at night using cloth pieces on the board. Regan, it seems, is deaf. She wears a cochlear device that her father keeps tinkering with, and yet her world remains deeply silent.
Lee divides his time between providing fish and vegetables for his family, monitoring their property for intruders and sending out SOS radio signals to countries around the world. No one has replied. There are people still living in their area though. They light fires at night, atop towers, to signal that they survive still. Lee rigs up a lighting system around his house and outbuildings. Clear lights mean all is well. Red means danger.
It’s in Lee’s basement room, set up with radios and the monitoring equipment, that signs of what happened a year ago are displayed. He has newspaper clippings, handwritten notes and drawings that tell the story. The world was invaded, in early 2020. One paper headline reads, “Meteor hits Mexico with the force of a nuke”. However, it wasn’t a meteor apparently. Tall, lanky creatures with sharp teeth roam the world, hunting down and killing anything that makes sound. Lee’s notes indicate the creatures are blind, covered with an armored hide that can’t be pierced, and have extremely sensitive hearing that leads them to their prey.
As the time approaches for the baby’s birth, preparations are made. Lee and Evelyn do as much soundproofing as possible in the basement room. They fashion a box for the newborn, complete with an oxygen source and a tight fitting lid, to minimize sound, because babies are not quiet!
Lee and Marcus leave to check fish traps, after a silent but intense argument between father and daughter. And Evelyn is following her routine when her water breaks, signaling the baby is coming earlier than expected. Afraid and in pain, she inadvertently does the one thing she cannot do, and keep herself and her family safe from the predators. She makes a sound.
This movie was intense…and very unique. The silence on the big screen, which was complete except for occasional background music and very brief conversations, penetrated into the movie theater itself, deepening the tension. People behind us stopped eating their popcorn, because it was too noisy! I needed to cough once…and choked it back instead. We all became so invested in the safety of the characters on the screen that we hesitated to make any sounds as well.
I loved how unique the story concept was. Sign language was used throughout the film with subtitles provided so the viewers could follow along. The level of intensity heightened the terror of the situation. I jumped several times. Close up camera shots and tight angles allowed the facial features of the actors to convey emotions such as terror or relief. Eyes opened wide, a tear running down a cheek or the mouth open in a silent cry made words unnecessary.
Other things I appreciated about A Quiet Place include:
Emily Blunt and John Krasinki, who play husband and wife in the film, are married in real life. Their chemistry was amazing. I trust that means they have a wonderful relationship.
John co-wrote, directed and starred in the film, with his wife’s support and encouragement. He is known for several comedic roles, including a part in The Office. He did a phenomenal job carrying out multiple roles in the film.
Millicent Simmonds, who plays the Abbotts hearing impaired daughter, is actually deaf. Krasinki credits her with not only helping the rest of the cast learn American Sign Language, she also made valuable suggestions for scenes in the film, from her life perspective.
And, I liked that very little was explained in the film. The audience was forced to rely on visual clues, that weren’t overly obvious, and some speculation about what had happened in the past and how things might be resolved in the future. Linda and I agreed we would be thinking about this movie for a long time.
At the core of this monster movie is a story about a family learning to adapt and survive, together. The parents vow to protect their children while providing as much normalcy as possible. The children behave like children, most of the time, until more is demanded of them.
The overarching theme of A Quiet Place is love. And it shows. Literally. One of the most poignant scenes comes when Lee signs to his children, “I love you. I have always loved you.” He didn’t have to say the words aloud. They knew. I knew. And a silent tear rolled down my cheek.