By Marc S. Sanders
M Night Shamylan is kicking himself right now for not thinking of this story. All it took for director/co-writer John Krasinski was very, very minimal dialogue, some well skilled young actors and his brilliantly, talented wife Emily Blunt to pull off one of the best pictures of 2018.
Another desolate, post-apocalyptic future has occurred and thankfully this story does not feature tired zombies or vampires. Krasinski uses old fashioned techniques to hide or mistakenly reveal his characters to the boogie men with no other agenda except to shut out all of the noise. A silo, a basement, a waterfall, fire, a nail, a hearing-impaired character, bare feet, a toy space shuttle, sand, lights and fireworks. I accepted every plot device used in the film, and each element is a miniature story in and of itself. As well, when there are moments that allow the four main characters to actually talk, there stands to be good reason for it and I bought all of it.
Emily Blunt is an incredible actress full of hard concentration and Krasinski does not let up on long running close ups to heighten her tension of isolation surrounded by the most terrifying threats, all while enduring a physical emergency. She stares without a blink. She effortlessly shakes with paranoia, and she evokes pain of the worst kind; all without uttering a sound or saying a word. This is the same actress who played a snobby diva in The Devil Wears Prada, and later went on to portray the most popular nanny of all time, Mary Poppins. This performance should not be overlooked. It’s incredible. You don’t need monsters in your face to be afraid. All you need is Emily Blunt to carry you along.
Krasinski springboards his terror off the best horror films from Jaws to The Shining to Alien to The Blair Witch Project and the original Paranormal Activity. Yet, he does manage to pioneer his craft with A Quiet Place. This is not something you have seen before. Hiding in silent fear has been done to death. The girl always hides in the closet from the killer. Here, you can hide, but staying out of sight won’t necessarily save you or do you any favors. These creatures just might be prepared for that. So, now you have something new to wrestle with. Can you keep quiet? This script does not make that easy. If ever a movie was to justify the need for Oscar categories like Sound and Sound Effects Editing, then this is the film to turn to. These tools give reason for the storyline more overtly than any other that I can imagine. You do not take the sound for granted, and you do not take the lack of sound for granted either.
Miguel Rodriguez and I originally saw this picture in a Dolby theatre. It’s a telling film that gives reason for a Dolby theatre in the first place. A film like this is worthy of the upgraded ticket price. (By the way, Mig, you still owe me $11.00.)
Put John Krasinski up as a top-notch director. I believe this film was granted a very small budget, but like the best directors to come before him, he has managed to put up big screams and the best in dramatic storytelling with little expense. He even manages to tug at your heartstrings if you allow it. The ending was a huge pay off for me personally. John Krasinski gives you a horror film, but he’ll make sure you have something to think about while you’re watching it, and long after you have left the theatre.