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A Quiet Place Film Review: Not Quiet Enough?

A woman gestures to a child to be quiet in the 2018 film A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place (2018) still impresses as a horror experience that tugs at your primal fears, even if some parts are not as subtle as hoped.

Director: John Krasinski
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
Run Time: 90′
Release Date: April 2, 2018
Where to watch: on digital & VOD

I recall when I first watched this film, I was lucky enough to go to a showing that had ten visitors max. You could say the theater was A Quiet Place.

Directed by John Krasinski, A Quiet Place follows Lee (John Krasinski, of The Office) and his family.

They live in a post apocalyptic world where Earth has been ravaged by an invasion from alien creatures that are highly sensitive to sound. Things get worse when his wife, Evelyn (Emily Blunt, of Oppenheimer) is due to give birth any day, while tensions rise with his deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds, of Wonderstruck).

What’s the best way to describe this film? Think back to the time when you tried sneaking a midnight snack at high while everyone’s asleep. Now imagine if your family had the hearing of Daredevil, and getting caught will get you grounded from life. That’s basically A Quiet Place.

The best part of any good horror movie tends to be not its scares, but the moments before the scare. It’s the tense, silent moment that leaves you hanging precariously and brings out your inner five year-old scared of the monster in the closet. That moment is stretched almost perfectly into 95 minutes here. It doesn’t rely on blood and guts like slasher movies that honestly end up being more silly than scary; rather, it reaches into you and brings out the human being’s primal fear of silence, more specifically, of how that silence will break.

It doesn’t hurt that the acting is absolutely masterful here. Now, the characters themselves are not terribly deep or complex. They are just an average family with average family issues, but when all of the actors are conveying their emotions to the brink of their abilities, you cannot help but be immersed. Emily Blunt is the highlight here, especially in one moment in the climax where she has to give birth while one of the sound-tracking monsters are around.

Three people walk in a park, one of them holding a child, in the 2018 film A Quiet Place
A Quiet Place (2018) (Paramount Pictures)

There is one element I wish to discuss in the context of the six years since its initial release, one that the film has gotten a surprising amount of criticism for: plot holes. People were quick to point out certain details of the story or worldbuilding that don’t hold up to scrutiny, such as “how can they realistically keep up a soundless system all the time?”

However, I will fully defend this film in that regard. I don’t believe the mere existence of plot holes break a film. Even if it skimps out on explaining some details, or some parts seem a little too convenient, if the film can convince me to keep up with it, I am willing to let those details slide. On that front, A Quiet Place delivers. I don’t need a documentary detailing every single logically sound part of this post-apocalyptic world. I care about seeing how this family will get through their conflict, and whether they’ll do so in one piece.

Yet it’s not like I have no issues to levy at the film. Even though it has many things going for it, A Quiet Place doesn’t play to its strengths all the time, mainly because of subtlety. While subtlety can be overrated in some circumstances, horror I’d argue relies especially on being subtle. If you bombard your audience with sensory overload, chances are they will tire out fast, which isn’t ideal when you want to constantly keep them on the edge of their seats.

You would think this film would then have little issue with subtlety, when its premise entirely revolves around being as quiet and tense as possible. But too often does it choose to have blaring sound cues to jumpscare the audience with, or booming soundtracks playing at a pretty constant pace. At times music helps with enhancing the atmosphere, but A Quiet Place is a little too loud too many times.

This will be a more contentious statement, but I wonder if this film even needed a soundtrack at all. What if it had only used the natural sounds of its environment with no musical support? I feel it could have helped made things even more immersive and tense. Perhaps that is too extreme a remedy, but regardless, the point is that A Quiet Place could have benefitted from less sound, ironically.

Is this film bad? Absolutely not. It’s a lean, nerve-racking experience that will leave you hugging your teddy bear at night (don’t judge). Yet because it’s done so masterfully that the dumb little flaws are more noticeable, sort of like the tiny specks of mold on an otherwise perfectly clean PB and J. Regardless, I am happy to say that A Quiet Place has held up to scrutiny after six years, and watching it again has still given me the same chills it gave me on first watch. And I eagerly await what A Quiet Place: Day One will add to the experience.

Get it on Apple TV

A Quiet Place (2018) is now available to watch on digital and on demand. A Quiet Place: Day One was released in theaters on June 28, 2024. Read our review of A Quiet Place Part II!

A Quiet Place Day One review: Why stay alive in the apocalypse? – Loud and Clear
A Quiet Place: Day One finds a nice balance between spectacle and character, with a story far more personal than the marketing led on.

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