A Quiet Place is among the best experiences I had watching a film this year, as it utilized its technical facets with a great amount of intelligence. From the sound design to the cinematography, John Krasinski ensures you are actively involved in the family’s plight—and maybe even implicated in it, as one flinches at every minute sound from within the film, and outside it. The monsters here are also genuinely scary, so hats off to the team who designed them. Seeing those slit-like ears open up… yeesh. They’re almost on par with the screaming mutant bear from Annihilation.
There’s also a lot going on in terms of trauma, and the torment involved in not being able to give it proper vocalization. The now-infamous nail scene, and the accompanying bathtub birth, is sort of a supplemental commentary on that notion, using body horror and physical pain to mirror the psychological wounding of seeing someone you love die a preventable death. It’s interesting to note that another popular horror film from this year, Hereditary, also deals with similar themes, but is more concerned with genealogical traumas, and how families can quickly unravel when they are not dealt with. Here, the very notion of the Abbotts unravelling would give the monsters an easy win—and that’s a key difference. The monsters, unlike in Hereditary, are not supposed to win. The Abbotts are far too resilient to lose, and they have the means not to. Nothing is predestined here like it is in Hereditary, and while that makes A Quiet Place less of a black hole of misery, it doesn’t weaken its impact, either.
And so, barring a few logistical holes (the biggest one for me being Dad’s refusal to explain the importance of the hearing aids to his daughter), A Quiet Place is a taut ninety-minutes of unfiltered dread and suspense. The jump scares are also very effective, my favourite being the one with the baby raccoons. Now that produced a true gasp.