‘A Quiet Place’ is like ‘Aliens’ retooled as a militant librarian’s fantasy. Actor-director John Krasinski’s relentless shocker thrives on a nifty premise: in a post-apocalyptic near future, a family must survive in a world where the slightest sound brings out deadly monsters. With minimal dialogue – characters communicate by (subtitled) sign language, eye contact and whispers – ‘A Quiet Place’ is pure, bold cinema, its images and creepy sounds working together to scare the bejesus out of you.
Save for some late-in-the-day news headlines, Krasinski admirably gives us little backstory for the monsters. Instead, mum (Emily Blunt), dad (Krasinski), son (Noah Jupe) and daughter (Millicent Simmonds), whose deafness means she can’t hear the beasties coming, are just shoved through the mill. Nerve-shredding set pieces revolve around a nail sticking out of a stair, a flooding basement and a ‘Jurassic Park’-like run through a field. All done with ruthless brio.
The rules of this world are fast and loose, so the monsters can’t hear over waterfalls but can listen through walls. It’s a neat allegory for the challenges of parenting in a crazy world. The family dynamics lack nuance, but real-life husband and wife Krasinski and Blunt bring poignancy, the CG beasties are striking and the film pulses with ideas. It all adds up to a monster movie to shout about. Or maybe not.