Silent but deadly

Make a sound and die in A Quiet Place

Starring John Krasinksi and Emily Blunt. Directed by John Krasinksi. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG-13.
Rated 4.0

Noise-intolerant neighbors are taken to all levels in A Quiet Place, a horror film in which blind aliens that hunt by sound would literally kill you—and everyone else at your party—if you turned your stereo up.

John Krasinski directed, co-wrote and stars—he’s Lee, a father trying to protect his family in a post-apocalyptic world besieged by horrific aliens who will tear you apart if you make so much as a peep. In the opening sequence, Lee, his wife, Evelyn (Krasinski’s real-life wife, Emily Blunt), and three children are taking a very quiet walk home from a drug store. One of them makes a sudden noise, and the results are pretty scary for a PG-13 movie.

The aliens don’t respond to regular ambient sounds—a river running, birds chirping—but rather sounds that are more interruptive, like fireworks or a person screaming after stepping on a nail. The gimmick lends itself to some faulty logic at times, but it does provide an overall interesting premise: Speak audibly in relatively quiet surroundings and you will get your head bitten off. It’s like everyday life is a hellish library where the penalty for gabbing or dropping something is death.

Krasinski’s film gives you no real back story about the aliens. A few glimpses of newspaper front pages let you know that the world has been ravaged by the species. One look at them (they are a cross between Ridley Scott’s alien and the Cloverfield monster) and you know that just a few days with these things running around would decimate the world’s population.

Blunt gives a standout performance as somebody forced to keep quiet in especially difficult circumstances—e.g., after a painful injury, or giving birth in a bathtub while an alien clicks and claws nearby. It’s scenes like those, as well as one involving a crying baby in a flooded basement, that give Blunt a chance to call upon myriad facial expressions that will chill your blood. She pulls you into every moment with an earnestness that feels real.

Krasinki’s done well with family drama before (2016’s The Hollars was a good, if little noticed, movie), but this horror-thriller shows him as a director of true ingenuity. And Krasinski complements his directing chops with a fine performance as a guy doing everything to keep his sanity and protect his family, including a young deaf daughter (played by the superb Millicent Simmonds, who is actually deaf) and son (Noah Jupe). Both of the kids are terrific here.

The monsters themselves are stellar CGI creations, a nice achievement considering the movie was made on a relatively low budget. Cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen provides excellent camera work, while Marco Beltrami’s score punctuates the jarring scary moments while also giving you something to listen to during a pretty quiet film in which the performers communicate mostly through sign language and whispering.

While there are some “Yeah, right!” moments where the story’s own rules are broken, there are far more sequences that are extremely well done. It’s an original concept that, combined with the great acting and direction, make for a movie that you won’t soon forget and might leave you treading more lightly around your house at night.