Best known for his role as Jim on The Office (At least to me), director John Krasinski composed a beautiful experiment in tension that will leave audiences holding their breath. A Quiet Place starts with a pretty thin premise, otherworldly monsters have devastated the human population and left only a few desperate survivors who must live in total silence to avoid becoming prey. The world is brought to life with excellent cinematography and talented acting which is all held together by a level of directing that plays a little too safe, but with a level of competence that hints at an eager brilliance.
Though the world of A Quiet Place fails to hold up to basic scrutiny, full of implausible monsters that act as an outright silly and contrived plot device to force the characters to live in total silence, John Krasinski allows us to suspend our disbelief by avoiding even a second of film time that explains their existence or the fall of the world. By sucking us immediately into the lives of the protagonists, John Krasinski is able to have the audience buy into the silence by completely immersing us in careful character building delivered through emotional performances.
Of the wonderful acting talent on display, Emily Blunt aces every scene she is in. Her performance ends up being the backbone of the film, though John Krasinski holds his own when acting alongside her. Similar to his directing style, though, his performance feels by the numbers. He delivers when it counts, helping you to be invested in his character, but when compared to the talent of Emily Blunt, he clearly has room to grow. That said, I absolutely believe he can and want to see him in more roles that show off his range.
While I absolutely held my breath through the majority of the film, I do have to say that the overall construction of the film feels a little bit like a paint by number. It’s almost utilitarian in its construction, both in the way the plot unfolds as well as in the directing of each scene on its own. This is not inherently negative, but it undermines the freshness of the source material.
Krasinski gets a lot of bonus points for experimenting with a story that plays so much with sound, leaving you listening to every footstep, every breath of air, every snap of a twig, or the fall of a dropped flashlight… it’s a brave and experimental choice that pays off in spades. The whole theater was silent with anticipation. If anything, it’s the creativity of the basic premise of the film that highlights the blandness of the execution.
It’s not bad, but the stiffness of the cuts, character arrangement, and angles is palpable. That said, I want to see more from Krasinski as a director. I want to see if this is something he can grow beyond. However, even if he doesn’t he has a sense of taste in subject matter that may negate completely the lack of style in his craftsmanship, similar to the early work of Kevin Smith.
The end result is still some of the best tension I’ve felt in years and a refreshing sense of anticipation that lasts for almost the whole runtime. A Quiet Place is a must-see for fans of good horror and viewers with a fascination for quality storytelling, editing, or film construction. It’s a blast of a thrill-ride that will keep early summer audiences on the edge of their seats while holding their breath for what’s coming around the next corner in the dark. Be sure to watch this one.
|Final Verdict:||A must see exercise in creative, though stiff, directing that is an early contender for best horror film of the year.|