Silence is the star of ‘A Quiet Place’

April 6, 2018 GMT

John Krasinski, known most readily for his role in “The Office,” not only stars in the new horror/thriller “A Quiet Place,” but he also wrote and directed it. His second time wearing all three hats, he sits quite comfortably in the director’s chair this time. It’s also the first time Krasinski has co-starred alongside his wife, Emily Blunt. And it won’t be the last based on the predicted success of this film.

Lee (Krasinski), Evelyn (Blunt) and their three children live in a world of silence in a post-apocalyptic small town. There is no other sign of life as they walk through an abandoned grocery store, shelves wiped clean except for the well-stocked chip shelves (that’s a clue), no cars on the street and long-forgotten surroundings. It’s fall, and dressed in sweaters, the family walks barefoot back to their home in absolute silence, only to have the sweet family of five quickly become a family of four thanks to a forbidden battery-operated toy.

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Communicating through sign language and mourning the death of their youngest, the family attempts to live day by day in as normal a way as possible ... in silence. Playing board games with dice rolled on a rug, using lettuce leaves as plates, walking on paths made of sand or ash are all a part of how to live quietly. But when Evelyn becomes pregnant and gives birth, the family must outsmart the blind, but super-sensitive, auditory monsters hunting them. Coincidentally, the oldest daughter is hearing-impaired, frustrated by a nonfunctioning cochlear implant. (The actress herself is deaf.)

There’s no underscore of music, leaving the viewer uneasy. The ear-piercing screech of the monster/alien is equally jarring, juxtaposing the silence.

In “A Quiet Place,” Krasinski demonstrates he can make us care and our hearts race. The story is a rather predictable horror/monster/alien invasion film, but what makes this one different is the extraordinary responsibility and love these parents have for their children. Creating this scenario, complete with a rebellious young teen and a boy who still needs to be coddled, isn’t an easy task, but Krasinski hits all the right notes. While there are plenty of “gotcha” setups and a few holes in the premise, Krasinski gives us a story where we must find out how it ends.

Blunt and Krasinski, not surprisingly, give exceptional performances as a husband and wife trying to survive. Noah Jupe (“Wonder”) and Millicent Simmonds (“Wonderstruck”) portray the couple’s children with utmost ease.

But it’s the character of silence that’s the star of this film. (Please refrain from bringing bags of chips to the theater. This completely ruins the atmosphere!) You can hear a pin drop, and as you exhale, you can hear it. “A Quiet Place” gives “silent film” an entirely new definition.

3 out of 4 stars