Since its release in April 2018, John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place has received a lot of attention by professional critics and general horror fans alike.
I recently had the opportunity to watch it and make my own judgments, seated toward the front row of my college’s film room during a small screening event for students.
The following review contains spoilers.
Review of A Quiet Place
A Quiet Place begins with the death of Beau Abbott (Cade Woodward), the youngest son of Evelyn and Lee Abbott (Emily Blunt and John Krasinski), which abruptly shatters the commonly maintained film “rule” that children remain unharmed.
Subsequently, viewers become aware that no one is genuinely safe from the blind, hypersensitive aliens who have seemingly massacred a large amount of the human population.
In this regard, the film not only has the potential to catch its audience off guard from the very start but also clearly establishes the strength of its generally obscure antagonists.
The creatures are indiscriminately hostile toward all humans, regardless of age or any other characteristic, and the Abbotts — the family at the center of the film — do not have the resources to effectively fight back, leaving them in an ongoing state of extreme caution.
Each of the previous elements that are established during the introduction work to the advantage of A Quiet Place, creating a consistent feeling of tension over its course that’s only lessened for brief moments, such as when Marcus Abbott (Noah Jupe) has the opportunity to freely scream alongside his father, their voices masked by a waterfall.
With that said, the film maintains an extended degree of fear in its audience that is oftentimes absent in more modern additions to the horror genre.
Despite this reality, however, the manner in which fear remains consistent — extremely harsh transitions from ambient sounds and whispering to ear-piercing jump scares — may be somewhat controversial, depending on the viewer.
From my own perspective, I feel partially divided by the technique.
In a film centered on a family who attempts to survive by remaining as quiet as possible, the use of sound as a fear-inducing tactic is justifiable, but I also found it to be somewhat exhausting.
Relatively frequent jump scares that were distinctly high in volume left me overwhelmed and distracted at times, waiting for the next one to startle me.
Nevertheless, I found A Quiet Place to be inarguably successful in its creative approach to horror and its ability to evoke genuine feelings from its viewers — particularly, empathy for each of the Abbott family members.
Jump scare controversy aside, its use of sound appropriately differs from other films, encouraging viewers to focus on sounds that would likely be overlooked in most contexts, such as bare feet walking over grains of sand formed into sound-muffling trails.
Furthermore, there are various instances throughout the film in which the Abbotts, who become relentlessly targeted by aliens in the midst of dealing with personal matters (such as the birth of a child and the reparation of a strained relationship), are portrayed as characters who the audience is able to relate and react to in a genuine manner, resulting in a meaningful viewing experience.
With all of these aspects considered, I can understand the positive reviews that the film received after its release in 2018, but I do believe that it could have benefited from an extended runtime.
An additional 20 or 30 minutes would have been enough to satisfy viewers (myself included) who were disappointed by the particular moment in which the film reaches a [controversial] end.
Pumpkin Rating and Conclusion
3.5 / 5 Pumpkins
Despite being somewhat inhibited by its frequent use of jump scares and divisive endpoint, A Quiet Place approaches horror in a manner that stands out from other films in the genre and creates an emotional viewing experience in a relatively short amount of time.
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John Krasinski Twitter: @johnkrasinski
Image Reference: Vanity Fair