A brisk 90-minute movie about monsters who hunt by sound doesn’t have the ring of a performance tour-de-force, but as it turns out A Quiet Place is as much an acting showcase as it is a gauntlet of suspense. With his third directorial outing (one he also co-scripted) John Krasinski is more confident and concise behind the camera than ever before. This tale of a family trying to survive without making a sound has precious few words, but no problems communicating everything we need to know.
A harrowing trip to the store and we know this isn’t an apocalypse many survived. We know even the most careful people can make mistakes. We know this family is bound and determined to survive. But even what we know can’t help us when we see the darkness of their reality.
Back in their safe space, there are no shoes, the floors are covered in sand, the monopoly pieces the children play with have been replaced by felt cutouts and the houses and hotels by those colorful poufs that once stood in for so many Rudolph noses. There’s love here, lots of it, even some joy, but there’s a steady current of terror underneath it all. One that can’t be forgotten as Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and Lee (Krasinski) sway to a rare song, bound together by the headphones that let them escape their reality for a moment.
We cringe as every one of the Abbots is forced to suffer silently through injuries, horror and agony. None of them more so than Evelyn, who proves to be as remarkable an effort from Blunt as her massively vulnerable turn in Sicario. We cheer when they make progress and we hold our breath when the odds are stacked against them — which, for the record, is more or less the whole of the 90-minutes. Not to be outdone, young Millicent Simmonds wrings as much out of shadowy facial expressions as Blunt does, giving the whole affair even more gravitas.
A Quiet Place isn’t just a great monster movie. It’s a great movie. It has the precision of a sharp horror film blended with the texture and richness of a layered drama. It’s the kind of movie that deserves a massive screen and a big crowd. Just skip the popcorn, you’ll feel that you are the monster if you crunch right through the silence because these tight 90-minutes are some of the best the screen has yet seen in 2018.