“Do you blame her for what happened?” says young Marcus Abbott (Noah Jupe). “No,” says his father (John Krasinski). Says Marcus, “Does she blame herself?” “It was no one’s fault,” his father says. They’re talking about the death of Marcus’ younger brother Beau (Cade Woodward), killed by horrific, flesh-eating aliens a year earlier. That’s the setup for this taut, smart creature film that, truthfully, is more about family love than ravenous extraterrestrial aliens.
Why might Beau’s sister Regan (Millicent Simmonds) blame herself? Can the Abbott family survive in this bleak, post-apocalyptic world? Will noise betray their location, bringing the alien creatures? For answers, see “A Quiet Place.”
Spare in dialog and cast, “A Quiet Place” has four characters. Off-screen wife and husband, Emily Blunt and John Krasinski are Evelyn and Lee Abbott, tenderly loving wife and husband, protective parents of their surviving children, Regan and Marcus. Blunt is compelling as Evelyn, pregnant and counting down to her due date, dreading a newborn’s cries that will surely bring the terrifying creatures. Krasinski is her stalwart husband, hunting, fishing and gathering for his family and ever alert for danger. “Who are we,” says Evelyn, “if we can’t protect our children?”
As daughter Regan, who is deaf, Millicent Simmonds (herself hearing impaired) is excellent. Older than her brother, she silently conveys a broad range of emotions with sign language and is the heart of the family story. Noah Jupe plays younger brother Marcus whose talk with his father is the first spoken-aloud dialog, 40 minutes into the film. (Subtitles translate sign language.) “If you love my sister,” he says to his father, “you should tell her.” Leon Russom is the only other cast member — a silent, unnamed “man in the woods.”
“A Quiet Place” is a lesson in making really good horror films. Think last year’s “Get Out,” “The Witch” (2015), or — as Krasinski and Blunt referenced in a recent “Time” article — “Jaws” (1975). Spielberg’s shark didn’t show up for an hour. You’ll have to wait to see director (and co-writer) Krasinski’s aliens as well. It’s how you do horror, letting imagination do its work. Bryan Woods and Scott Beck are other writers; Charlotte Bruus Christensen did the excellent cinematography.
Rated PG-13 for terror and bloody images, “A Quiet Place” runs just 90 minutes. Not for young children.
Almost silent, “Quiet Place,”
Is tense, taut, smartly paced;
Creature flick with lots to fear,
But parents’ love brings a tear.