John Krasinski's “A Quiet Place,” the story of a family under siege whose survival is due to the family members' ability to live on their rural farm in silence, creates in its audience a fascinating relationship with sound. Rating: 3.5 stars out of 4.
After viewing “A Quiet Place,” I very much needed a quiet place; one where everything was calm and nothing jumped out at me and Emily Blunt wasn’t lurking in dark rooms looking utterly terrified. Which means, it should go without saying, that the movie worked just fine. Please do not make any sudden movements near me this week. Thank you.
OK then. “A Quiet Place,” directed by John Krasinski (and yes, you may need to settle down by bingeing episodes of “The Office” after viewing), is the story of a family under siege. It is the near-future (2021, according to a crucial gravestone), and mysterious creatures have terrorized a region, leaving streets eerily deserted and stores abandoned. One family — a father (Krasinski), mother (Blunt, who’s married to Krasinski off-screen) and their children; I don’t think we ever heard anyone’s name — remains, and we quickly learn that the family’s survival is due to their ability to live on their rural farm in silence. They speak in sign language and the faintest of whispers; they walk barefoot; they eat off lettuce leaves rather than clanking plates. Why? These monsters, we learn with a shiver, are triggered by sound.
The logic of all of this is questionable; this is one of those movies subject to what Alfred Hitchcock called the “icebox trade” — those who go home from the screening, take out some cold chicken from the fridge, and dissect all the inconsistencies of the movie they just saw. (Alas, I had no cold chicken.) But it doesn’t matter a whit in the moment. “A Quiet Place” is brief, taut and often quite terrifying. And it creates in its audience a fascinating relationship with sound: the vibrating quiet outdoors, where wind and grass whisper; the flat, empty silence experienced by the family’s deaf daughter (Millicent Simmonds, of “Wonderstruck”); the eerie, slippery on-and-off score by Marco Beltrami; the deafening noise of a waterfall; the sudden, breathless hush, trembling in the air, as a finger is brought to lips. Brr. I’ll say no more.
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★★★½ “A Quiet Place,” with Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe. Directed by Krasinski, from a screenplay by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck and Krasinski. 90 minutes. Rated PG-13 for terror and some bloody images. Several theaters.