Effectively utilising how we digest art, A Quiet Place adapted itself to the unremitting fears of silence. It brings with it an uncomfortable halt of the breath as its quiet characters conform to the stillness around them. Usually, stillness and tranquillity come together, but director John Krasinski does well to dispel the latter, threading unremitting fears into the stillness and platitude that should come from idyllic days of quieter living. Its utilisation of quiet streets and a broken world are immediately effective, yet upon returning to A Quiet Place, it is striking as to how little of it is all that memorable.
Upon reflection, it is the silence that formed the strengths of A Quiet Place. How effective it is and how core its mechanics are to the story Krasinski wishes to tell. But silence only takes us so far. What Krasinski fails to employ here is empathy for his character and those around him. They are a family whose goal is survival. That simplicity is necessary and desirable, but not something that translates all that uniquely. His smaller details, characters not wearing shoes or socks, the contrast of what silence is to an audience and what it means for these characters. For an audience, it is meditation and calmness, but for the Abbott family, it is a necessity that means life or death.
That much is well-realised, but for those moments of tragedy to work, there needs to be a realisation of an enemy worth hiding from. A Quiet Place takes from the book of Cloverfield. The absence of a monster is scarier than seeing it. An issue quite clear for A Quiet Place, though, is that when we inevitably see the beast that torments this family, it is not all that interesting a design. Krasinski displays a simplicity within his direction, from allowing the camera to focus on the stomach of a pregnant Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) to showcase that, yes, this family will be bearing a child once more. Those moments are never quite fully realised, but it is a credit to Krasinski that he can tell a story without much dialogue. His visual cues, then, have to be obvious and in the face of the audience. He lacks subtlety at times, for if anyone is straggling through such a simple story, it is down to his choice of storytelling style, not because of the performances, which are all strong and engaging.
Impossible it may be to replicate the effect this must have had in a darkened room filled with hundreds of horrified audience members, A Quiet Place still has some effect to it. Its family drama takes off rather well, although Krasinski leaves nothing to chance with obvious cues for his direction and what it means for this family of four. An effective piece to show loud children, who may take heed of the advice Krasinski offers here. Keep quiet, don’t annoy people, otherwise, monsters from an unknown land will tear you a new one. Krasinski paints a broadly interesting picture of a family out for survival but does little to provide subtler, understated details of their lives together. It is all simple, primitive, and obvious. At least its horror cuts through that, subjecting this family to tragedy and turmoil at every turn keeps the narrative cogs turning for as long as it can muster.