(Rated 14A [Canada] and PG-13 [MPAA] for terror and some bloody images; directed by John Krasinski; stars Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe and Cade Woodward; run time: 90 min.)
Warning: Review contains plot spoilers.
Thoughtful and emotionally rich
By Ted Giese
Shhhh … be very quiet. John Krasinski’s horror thriller “A Quiet Place” revolves around a family’s attempts to survive in a world stalked by danger. Any loud noise, day or night, draws a lethal attack from powerful alien monsters that quickly devour their prey.
The family comprises a father, Lee Abbott (John Krasinski); his wife, Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt); the Abbotts’ deaf oldest child and daughter, Regan (Millicent Simmonds, who is deaf in real life); and sons, Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward).
Having moved out of the city, they have made a life for themselves in the woods, secluded on a small farm where they carefully live an inventively quiet — almost silent — life. For them it’s a little bit of utopia in a dystopic world plagued by a hungry and pitiless alien.
Tension is introduced early with the death of the youngest son, Beau. After not listening to his father, Beau steals a small, battery-powered toy from an abandoned store in which the family is silently foraging for food. Using sign language, Lee tells his son that the toy is “too loud” and carefully takes out the batteries.
As the family silently leaves the store, however, Regan hands the toy to her little brother, and, against his father’s wishes, he takes the batteries and follows his family. When the toy inevitably makes a noise, Beau is snatched right before their eyes, leaving a gaping hole in the family, which, along with grief and guilt, quietly touches practically every scene and interaction in the film.
Lee and Evelyn conceive again, and the pregnancy brings a painful reminder of Beau, while also introducing a problem: babies are noisy.
Can anyone keep quiet forever? What noise will attract death?
These questions dog viewers with every soft step the Abbott family makes as the film unfolds like a felt flannelgraph. For viewers, meanwhile, the smallest sound in the theater, from eating popcorn to crinkling a candy wrapper, feels perilous.
Lead actors Blunt and Krasinski are married in real life, and this relationship brings great chemistry to the screen. With children of their own, they are believable as parents and as a married couple.
Viewers may know Blunt from films like “Sicario” (2015), “Edge of Tomorrow” (2014) and the musical “Into the Woods” (2014). She also is playing Mary Poppins in Disney’s new movie “Mary Poppins Returns” (2018).
Krasinski is best known for his role as Jim in the TV sitcom “The Office.” Along with directing and acting in “A Quiet Place,” he is listed as a writer, creating some buzz, as he’s known for comedy, not horror. This movie, though, is no comedy, but a heartfelt family drama against a backdrop of horror. Although the film is more suspenseful than gory, the alien monsters do eat a couple of people!
Christian viewers will be pleased to see a strong portrayal of a traditional family, with a father who is the head and a mother who, though strong and courageous, is respectful of her husband. The family’s survival is repeatedly dependent on following clear lines of authority, and not listening to one’s parents has the potential to bring immediate and life-threatening danger.
Yet in no way does this traditional family feel repressive, abusive or unloving; instead, both parents and children have opportunities to flourish and act in brave, bold and daring ways to serve, save and protect each other in times of peril.
But alongside their grief, loss and trouble, there are moments of happiness, forgiveness and love. The Abbotts are even seen praying at dinner in a natural and matter-of-fact way not often displayed in film.
“A Quiet Place” also has a prolife narrative. Not only is the family larger-than-average by today’s standards, but there is no suggestion of terminating the pregnancy, even with the knowledge that a baby will bring noise.
Additionally, the storyline involving Regan depicts deafness as a strength, not a hindrance. The family doesn’t shrink from her disability, but loves and cares for her. In fact, the use of sign language to communicate with each other gives the whole family a distinct advantage as the world around them falls silent.
“A Quiet Place” is the rare horror film that invites the audience to become invested in the characters, as opposed to horror films that include characters for the sole purpose of gruesome deaths. For those who enjoy suspense and thrills, Krasinski has made a thoughtful and emotionally rich film, with quality acting and special effects that put “A Quiet Place” well above average in the genre.
Watch the trailer:
Listen to “Issues, Etc.” host Rev. Todd Wilken interview the Rev. Ted Giese about a Christian viewer’s perspective on “A Quiet Place” and other contemporary motion pictures.
The Rev. Ted Giese (email@example.com) is lead pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; a contributor to The Canadian Lutheran and Reporter Online; and movie reviewer for the “Issues, Etc.” radio program. Follow Pastor Giese on Twitter @RevTedGiese.
Posted April 27, 2018