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Movie review: ‘A Quiet Place’ is a tense, incredibly well-crafted thriller

 

“A Quiet Place” was written, directed and produced by John Krasinski and also stars Krasinski, along with Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe. The film is about a family who is forced to live in total silence in order to hide from mysterious beings that attack strictly by sound.

Krasinski is known by most, including myself, as Jim Halpert from “The Office,” so the idea that this comedic actor could pull off directing and starring in a horror film seemed far-fetched at first. However, the trailers for this film looked outstanding, and Jordan Peele did something very similar just a year ago with “Get Out,” so I came in hopeful that Krasinski could prove his directing ability in his first horror effort.

The Good

“A Quiet Place” might be Krasinski’s creation, but as far as acting goes, it was Blunt’s movie. Blunt was outstanding from start to finish despite having the most challenging role. She is the one that consistently added to the tension with brilliant use of facial expressions. In particular, Blunt struck fear and suspense into every scene she was a part of in the final two acts .

Krasinski also gives a great performance, successfully avoiding his Jim-isms from “The Office” and becoming a truly solid lead for the movie. However, I was more impressed by Krasinski’s direction, which was simply exquisite, especially for a first-time horror director. The nuance and tension were there in strides, and I loved the small choices that Krasinski made with his implementation of sound and scares. It was equal amounts familiar and refreshing.

On a conceptual level, “A Quiet Place” is almost a completely silent film, yet it does a terrific job at showing strong character development, at least enough to get invested within this family. Jupe and Simmonds are both great as the children, and each of them had moments within the movie that gave an insight to their fears and worries. These small scenes ended up benefiting the film a lot as a whole.

This is an incredibly tense movie, and because of that, the scares always pay off in a big way. The lack of any noise for 90 percent of the runtime made the other 10 percent consistently stand out and strike fear into my heart. The final half of the film, starting with a highlight scene involving a bathtub, had me hiding under my shirt constantly. The film gave me anxiety in all the right ways.

There were a fair amount of jump scares involving loud noises throughout the movie, and while some were pretty unnecessary, they hit more than they missed. For most films, I would say that this was a cheap and ineffective way to get me to freak out. However, because this movie is all about noise and the lack of it, these small moments of sound work as loud, bombastic jump scares because all sound in this world could be the end of the line, so this felt like an intentionally smart move from Krasinski.

The Bad

For how amazing and intense the second half of the movie is, as well as the opening five minutes, which immediately sucked me in, there is quite a lull in the first act. Yes, it was used to build the characters, and it did that well, but it was never as interesting as I’d have wanted, and after the high of the opening, it felt like a major drop-off.

As with many horror movies, there are plot devices that felt very convenient, and there were times that every single bad thing that could possibly happen was happening at once. While it made for entertaining moments, it did cause me to roll my eyes on occasion.

I liked the performance from Simmonds, and the movie does something exquisite with her character’s hearing, but there were pieces of her character that felt a tad rushed or over the top. I understood her worries and her anger, but I didn’t think it was handled by the film as well as it could have been.

Conclusion

“A Quiet Place” is an extremely effective thriller that is even more impressive considering that this was Krasinski’s first crack at the horror genre. The performances, especially Blunt’s, are top-of-the-line. The concept was brilliantly executed and with this film, Krasinski more than proved his worth as a director, and an actor. “A Quiet Place” is one of the better horror films in recent memory, and it’s one you don’t want to miss in theaters.

4 out of 5 stars

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