In The Office, Rainn Wilson’s Dwight Schrute would often tease John Krasinski’s Jim Halpert about Dwight’s preparedness for the apocalypse, and Jim’s certain doom if (or rather when) the zombies, invading armies or killer bears arrive. Well, Dwight, your sworn enemy must have been paying attention; in A Quiet Place, Krasinski’s Lee Abbott is a determined survivor whose ability to keep his mouth shut would probably allow him to outlast Dwight.
Abbott, his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt, Krasinski’s real-life wife), and their children Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward) are living what might at first appear to be an idyllic life on a beautiful farm in upstate New York. But things aren’t really all that pleasant, as the Abbotts are forced to live a near-silent existence since they are constantly being hunted by ferocious creatures that locate their prey by sound. Everything in the family’s life is designed to minimize noise, from the soft-leaf lettuce with which they eat their food instead of using silverware to the crocheted game pieces with which they play Monopoly. It makes for a tense reality, but the Abbotts are determined to get by on their intelligence and optimism.
A Quiet Place is Krasinski’s third directorial feature, and it’s a fine addition to the horror genre, which has enjoyed a bit of a mainstream renaissance of late. He keeps the tension ratcheted up throughout, leaving the audience thankful that we only have to spend 90 minutes with the strain the Abbotts feel every hour of every day. He keeps us involved even with very little dialogue, thanks to excellent performances from his cast, especially from Blunt and from Simmonds, who is deaf like her character. Her expressiveness is incredible, and Krasinski wisely uses total silence, when shifting to Regan’s perspective, to emphasize the amount of noise that surrounds us even when we consider it quiet.
There are a few nitpicks that keep A Quiet Place just on the minus side of a full A. Some of the exposition, especially headlines on old newspapers and creature characteristics scrawled hugely on whiteboards, feel a bit obvious, and there are a few plot holes regarding both electricity and strategy that leave more questions. Also the sound design, though impressive, could have been used more effectively to draw audiences in. But A Quiet Place is well worth a watch (and listen), and may establish itself as a bit of an instant classic.