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‘A Quiet Place’ breaks barriers of cliche horror films

April 19, 2018

 

A Quiet Place – Five out of Five Stars

 

DESTIN SHIMER

Staff Reporter | dcs033@latech.edu

 

The Abbot family’s only defense against a pack of creatures who hunt by sound is their complete and utter silence. Their survival is not only key in order for them to take care of one another but is necessary for the continuation of the existence of the human race on Earth.

 

“A Quiet Place” is John Krasinski’s directorial debut. The film released nationwide in theaters April 6 and has now earned the title of box-office hit, racking up $71.2 million in its first week.

 

Eighty-nine days after the apocalypse, we meet the Abbot family in a dim, dusty, abandoned Walgreens. Parents Lee (John Krasinski) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and their three children have made the trek from their secluded country home into a once-bustling but now ghost town to gather medicine for their sick middle child.

 

I went into this film thinking it may be another cliche post-apocalyptic zombie flick, but when I watched their youngest child get snatched and eaten in front of the family on their journey back home, I recognized the true gravitas of the Abbots’ situation and the uniqueness of the screenplay, for most horror flicks center around a trivial terror, not grief or parental regret.

 

The physical beauty surrounding the Abbots is a jarring contrast to their situational tragedy, and I think this is the purpose of the landscape — the lush green farmland and vibrant, sun-drenched cornfields encircling the family as they struggle to survive seem to serve as a rebuttal to the ever-lurking horror of the sound hunters, as if nature itself is protesting the evil.

 

The fact that the film is almost completely devoid of a soundtrack is something worth mentioning as well. Every single onscreen breath and ginger footstep is audible, purposefully heightening the anxiety of the viewer. My ears were always searching for any detectable danger, and I found myself internally reprimanding characters who made a sound loud enough to possibly beckon their hunters.

 

After the boy’s slaughter, Krasinski forwards us to “Day 472,” ushering us into the Abbot’s next silent year via eerie title card. Things have changed since the boy’s death; somehow, they are even darker. Evelyn is heavily pregnant, her graceful girth often punctuated by her sun-darkened hand on her torso to remind the audience that, oh, yeah, another problem is approaching: babies cry, loudly, as do women in labor.

 

Things have also worsened between Lee and his eldest child, Regan, played wonderfully by Millicent Simmonds, whose deafness is a trait the actress and character share. Blaming herself for enabling the death of her younger brother, Regan’s guilt creates a wall between her and her father, who struggles in illustrating his affection for her.

 

The father/daughter pair’s strong bond but lack of communication essentially drives this heartfelt horror, the duo’s riff leading to the climax: the birth of Evelyn’s fourth child and the chaos that ensues.

 

These final scenes are where I think Krasinski really shines, both directorially and in performance. This climax not only provides ample opportunity for Blunt to showcase her impeccable dramatic acting chops, but also weaves physical danger and emotional trepidation together in a way that holds the audience taut with fear– not only for the survival of the film’s characters, but for their familial affinities.

 

This picture could really shift the status quo of horror from blandly grotesque to terrifying yet heartwarming, and for this reason I bestow it with five glimmering stars. Well, that and the fact that Blunt and Krasinski are the spousal filmmaking duo of any film buff’s dreams.

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