The Vermont Cynic

Review: “A Quiet Place” captivates audiences

Allie O'Connor, Culture Columnist

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My ears were ringing the moment the credits rolled, a distant hum that stayed with me as I caught the late-night bus back to campus. Though I’d seen the movie with friends, the feeling of isolation and fear throughout the film stuck with me.

It wasn’t the jarring scares or the sight of bloody monsters that followed me home, but the after effects of white-knuckle tension and built-up stress that left me on edge. My nerves were ground to a pulp, and my breaths felt shallower than usual.

“A Quiet Place” finds its vigor and success in a simple idea done devilishly well — a family who must live as quietly as possible to survive. For them, every accidental noise is as lethal as a loaded gun.

The idea of family and the lengths one would go to protect the people they love is the driving force behind every scare and tense moment. The true horror of the movie doesn’t come directly from the monsters, but from the palpable attachment between the audience and the family. Every misstep forces your heart into your throat, as you beg for the characters to run and hide.

Husband and wife team John Krasinski and Emily Blunt deliver deeply emotional performances as parents Lee and Evelyn Abbott. Throughout the film they protect kids Reagan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe), and Beau (Cade Woodward), and attempt to provide them a normal life in a dangerous world.

The unknown that surrounds the family is well-portrayed in the lack of information given to the audience about their situation. At the beginning of the film, we are greeted with the idea that remaining quiet is crucial, but only when the consequences of being heard come rolling in do we begin to understand what the characters are dealing with.

Lee, Evelyn and the kids don’t know much about why their world has become as dangerous as it has, and it’s a storytelling triumph to be able keep the audience in suspense alongside the characters as well as this movie does.

The character’s sanctuary on a rural farm is as homely as it is suffocating. The set design is clever, displaying Evelyn’s attempt to make her family’s home as comfortable as possible, all the while highlighting the fact that they really have nowhere else to go and no one to turn to during the movie’s climax.

The environment and post-apocalyptic atmosphere surrounding the family in the film radiates both isolation and warmth. Cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen fills the film with color and life, a stark comparison to the tones of most horror films, while still demonstrating the Abbott family’s seclusion.

She does this via wide, beautiful shots of abandoned towns and empty forests, as well as showing the ever present danger that lurks throughout the movie with sudden, jarring changes in mood and hue.

One of the main characters exists outside of the family — sound itself. The silence that floats between and throughout every scene is gripping and has an immense power to suspend the audience in any given moment, one of either peace and clarity or of terror and dread.

The entire movie is framed by the idea of the audience’s perspective as compared to each character. In wide shots, the audience gets a feel for the sweeping sounds of the environment, whereas the tight shots with characters or objects as the main focus amp up their specific sounds, like footsteps or hushed breaths.

However, whenever the movie is shot with the perspective of daughter Reagan (Millicent Simmonds) as the focus, sound is instead pulled out to reflect her experience as a deaf girl.

Director and actor John Krasinski’s insistence on casting a deaf actress to play Reagan Abbott is both splendid and significant.

Showing the events of the movie from Reagan’s perspective is both exhilarating and terrifying, as it gives the audience crucial information about her surroundings that she doesn’t have, like the whereabouts of her family or the monsters.

“I think it’s important in the deaf community to advocate for and be a representative for this story,” Simmonds said in an interview with NowThis. “A story that might inspire directors and other screenwriters to include more deaf talent and be more creative in the way you use deaf talent. I think that could be a wonderful thing to see. Not only deaf actors, but other disabled actors as well.”

While “A Quiet Place” is by no means a children’s movie, actress Millicent Simmonds hopes that seeing a deaf actress in an incredibly high-grossing movie will inspire deaf children and show them that they can be anything they want to be.

The movie as a whole is incredibly well-paced, even with minimal dialogue to keep it moving. Stellar performances from both Simmonds and Jupe made every moment visceral and real as they portrayed such honest and pure emotion. Every heart-wrenching scene and sudden sound was specifically designed to include the viewer as an active participant, not just a passive observer.

“A Quiet Place” is an exercise in horror that transcends meaningless jump scares and overdone theatrics in favor of authentic emotion, and is an absolute must-see for any horror fans looking for a new favorite.

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Review: “A Quiet Place” captivates audiences