John Krasinski co-wrote, executive produced, directed and stars in this sci-fi/horror/family drama which, as the title suggests, proves to be one of the quietest movies ever.
With almost no dialogue, a score by Marco Beltrami that only kicks in during the big scary setpieces and usually only the sound of rustling leaves, the softest footsteps and even the protagonists’ muffled breathing on the soundtrack, it’s a pic that demands that the audience shut the heck up, almost as if they were the ones being stalked.
In the year 2020 we meet the Abbott family (although names aren’t really used), first on ‘Day 89” and then ‘Day 472’ and beyond, as they try to survive in a world decimated by an extraterrestrial invasion. Dad Lee (JK), his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt, John’s offscreen missus too) and their kids Marcus (Noah Jupe from George Clooney’s Suburbicon) and the older Regan (Millicent Simmonds from Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck) live on a farm somewhere unspecified (in fact upstate New York), and their days are spent very quietly indeed as the blind aliens hunt via sound.
Regan is deaf (as is Millicent), and the family’s ability to communicate silently via sign language is one of the key reasons they’ve made it this far, and this is that rare film where lazy audiences will be forced to read subtitles. The characters’ days are spent doing regular chores slowly and stealthily, walking paths carefully spread with sand in bare feet and generally wasting time, and it’s hard not to wonder if it’s possible to be completely quiet for almost a year and a half. What if you snored? Or were given to sudden sneezes? Or… well, you get the idea.
Evelyn is pregnant and a complex series of familial decisions lead to Lee journeying into the woods for medicine and taking the reluctant Marcus with him (Jupe’s fearful look is excellent) instead of Regan, who’s expected to stay home and look after her Mom. However, as this is a horror movie, we know that none of this is going to end well, and Krasinski deftly turns the final act into one very nearly terrifying sequence after another, as the four main characters try very, very hard not to scream.
The idea of shadowy killers hunting by sound isn’t quite an original one (the Spanish ‘Blind Dead’ movies of the ‘70s were major hits, for example), but Krasinski and screenwriters Bryan Woods and Scott Beck ensure that this is as much about the family as it is the monster stuff, and therefore it’s surprisingly moving at times. But don’t fret genre fans, as it’s also, at times, pretty bloody frightening too.
Rated M. A Quiet Place is in cinemas now.