When I only saw waves of positive feedbacks regarding A Quiet Place, coming from all of my friends and colleagues, I had to be the last in line to go and watch it.
The latest endeavour of John Krasinski, written and directed entirely by the actor himself (and starring him too as a main character), had a simple premise: in the umpteenth post-apocalyptic world, populated by the umpteenth threat of mysterious mutant creatures, a family struggles to survive, without making the simplest of noises.
“IT’S SOUND!!!“, says a local newspaper in capital letters: “they” can hear any kind of loud noise, and it’s imperative to be as quiet as possible to avoid contact with them. Interesting enough as it is, Krasinski decided not to stop there: he also put in place some brilliant family drama, a stunning direction and a masterfully crafted writing. All pieces of a massive, 90-minutes long puzzle; and one of those that look especially great after you complete them.
A Quiet Place | The Last Of Us meets I Am Legend – and makes it right
There’s a reason why I pinned Ars Ludica: The Art of Video Games to the homepage: my passion for video games is no secret, and my past / current works speak for themselves. Because of that, of course I saw plenty of The Last Of Us in A Quiet Place: starting from the very concept of the frightening creatures, all the way to the setting and the storyline revolving around family and sacrifice. There’s no Ellie here, but, on the other hand, we have a wonderful Joel, portrayed by John Krasinski himself (who would be a stunning candidate for a The Last Of Us live action, by the way): a caring and thoughtful father, struggling to help his family survive to all the madness they are trapped into. And he wears a long beard too.
On the other hand, we have a slightly countryside-ish setting and “clicking” creatures that react to sound only. Do we really need another clue?
What’s curious is that I also saw some of Cloverfield and I Am Legend too, while experiencing the movie – except that, this time, A Quiet Place makes it right: the lack of backstory is like a fragmented picture scattered all across the movie, and it’s the viewer’s job to put it together, ultimately looking for an answer that never comes. Pieces of newspapers, lost footage, subtexts, everything tickles the spectator’s curiosity and makes him want to discover more – which is basically what drove the first seasons of The Walking Dead.
But A Quiet Place moves a few steps forward from its sources of inspiration. The story never feels boring or forced, the acting is superb, and Krasinski’s direction is hardly questionable when it comes to telling a story.
In brief, A Quiet Place is the I Am Legend that never was. And I enjoyed I Am Legend too.
The Art of Silence
When I sat down in the movie theater, with my partner next to me, I was ready for anything – literally. I won’t ever deny that I don’t enjoy the latest trend in most horror films, and I was scared I could find yet another movie focused on visuals and jumpscares, rather than on some meaningful substance.
Instead, what greeted me was one of the most capturing intros I’ve ever witnessed, as the whole room plunged into silence: a crude, yet necessary beginning, set to build tension up to a terrific climax. Without saying a single word, the whole cast managed to keep me on the edge of my seat, providing an experience that I will surely remember for quite some time. And they kept on doing that, until the very ending, with tension constantly rising on the screen at every scene.
A kind of tensions that is built, kept, and delivered in an exceptional way too. I remember what professional script editor Kate Leys once said to the whole class, during a creative writing workshop: “Think of the worst thing that could happen to your character, then pull the string until it breaks“. Krasinski seems to know that very well, and he does that several times, constantly testing his characters with the worst kinds of situations. While managing, at the same time, to deliver an unprecedented feeling of anxiety that haunts the viewer for the whole experience.
Love the Smallest Things
But there’s more to A Quiet Place than just rising tension: John Krasinski’s movie is a wonderful experience, one that reminds you of the real power of the Seventh Art, and one that every movie lover is invited to go and see. Everything moves as slow as possible in the movie, in order to prevent loud noises and sounds; as a result, A Quiet Place teaches you to appreciate small things, it reminds you to take your time, in a frenetic and dynamic society that requires you to always run. And never such reality was more meaningful than to a citizen of London.
One of the best moments in the movie is, perhaps, the dinner scene: everyone eats slowly, and then spends some time with the rest of the family in games, or silent conversations. But even more meaningful is the intimate dance scene between Krasinski and his wife, Emily Blunt, who delivers yet another incredible performance on screen: a moment of peace, relaxation, and true love. One that shall never come back during the rest of the movie.
A new page in the history of horror movies?
A Quiet Place is stunning, either in visuals, writing, direction, or cast performance. It is a full score for Krasinski’s work, a splendid experience impossible to forget and with a deep meaning hidden behind its thrilling story. The focus is clearly on family, sacrifice, and the difficult role of caring parents: the viewer who goes beyond the simple story will find a moving tale of two people, willing to do anything to keep their children safe, and, at the same time, having to cope with shadows from their past. It is a new, thrilling take on the horror genre, and hopefully one that will make history for years to come.
A desire to start again, to live again, fills the whole movie and script, a poetic struggle for human survival that goes beyond the simple killing of a few threatening creatures. An unparalleled story, easy to enjoy, but tremendously difficult to assimilate at its whole.
And to think that it wasn’t probably done with the biggest of budgets. A Quiet Place proves a simple point: you don’t need gigantic visual effects to make a great movie. All you need is passion, love for what you are doing, and a desire to let go of your worst fears.
Knowing that you will surely be listened by a caring audience – one that shall follow, listen, cry, and believe in your story. Up until the end.