Everything you want to know about John Krasinski’s stripped down horror-thriller A Quiet Place is contained in the title. The perfectly-paced 95-minute creature feature has perhaps the best horror movie concept in years. The population has been decimated by monsters with no known origin or motivation. They are completely blind but have an excellent sense of hearing. The slightest sound, conversation, the clinking of plates or shoes crunching gravel can catch their attention and endanger a human life in an instant.
Lee (Krasinski), Evelyn (Emily Blunt), daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and son Marcus (Noah Jupe) appear best equipped to deal with the situation. Regan is deaf, and the entire family is well-versed in sign language. They live in the middle of nowhere, trying to make as little noise as possible. They use plates made of leaves. Every step is measured. Not a single word passes between the family members.
The second half turns into a survival drama, and plays out as an intensely delirious cat-and-mouse game between the creatures and the family. The edge of your seat action, where nobody is safe and there is danger at every turn, works as in the best horror films – by creating a sense of fear from both what is shown and what is not revealed.
Krasinski, who has co-written with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck and also stars in the film, chooses not to do much explaining. Much of the information about the world in which the story is set can only be gleaned from screaming tabloid headlines. While this is disconcerting and a little unsatisfying because viewers want to know more about the monsters, the lack of information also makes everything mysterious and even more terrifying.
Most of the film is silent, and the sound design accentuates every creak, whimper and breath. However, the melodramatic touches in the scenes depicting the relationship between the parents and the children prove to be jarring in an otherwise restrained and minimal narrative. Whenever an attempt is made to gaze deeper and uncover family secrets, the gaps in logic quickly become apparent.