Victoria Brown, Arts and Entertainments Co-Editor.
The use of sound in the horror genre can make or break a film. No matter how horrifying the visuals, it is the sound that makes your skin crawl. John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place utilises sound and its absence in this terrifying and suspenseful horror that will keep you on the edge of your seat, afraid to rustle your popcorn or even breath too loudly. The story is simple: set in near-future America, in a post-invasion world, ruthless creatures hunt the remainders of humanity through sound, and for those left alive, to stay silent is to stay alive. The narrative follows the Abbott family – mother, father, and their three young children – as they utilise silence to survive – and try to figure out a way to destroy the creatures.
The Abbotts have a decided advantage in this world – their eldest daughter is deaf, so they have the ability to communicate in sign language, therefore eliminating the need to whisper and the possibility of raising one’s voice just loudly enough to attract the creatures. While there is audible dialogue in the film, it is minimal and heightens the suspense present throughout the narrative. The family have also come up with ways to eliminate noise in their natural environment, including placing soft sand along walkways to avoid twigs snapping, or painting acceptable footpaths along wooden floors to avoid creaking. Painstaking knowledge and planning has gone into this, and it is a brilliant example of not only how creative and resourceful people can be, but how hard they fight just to survive.
There are many instances where noise is made, mostly by accident, and depending how far along you are into the story it either makes you clasp your mouth shut in shared horror with the Abbotts, or hold your breath and pray that the creatures do not hear. Most of these incidents pass without major threat, save for jump scares, but you know that a certain noise is going to attract the creatures in the future – because the mother is pregnant. Any woman who has given birth can tell you the agonising pain they went through and can tell you that they made a lot of noise. Now, imagine being in that unbearable pain and not being able to make a sound. Not only is that terrifying, it’s near impossible. The Abbotts construct a noisy distraction for the creatures in the event of this unavoidable noise, and while the scene is incredibly clever and a pleasure to watch, it is damn scary.
There are generic plotlines from the horror genre that are unavoidable with a plot like this, but they are executed so cleverly and are so realistically ingrained in the plot that you let it go. The film also ends at the perfect time – without giving anything away, it concludes exactly where it should, and does not drag out a story we know will end in a certain way.
John Krasinkski has created a truly memorable world with A Quiet Place, and it will definitely be added to my Top Ten Horror Films.
Director: John Krasinski.
Starring: John Krasinksi, Emily Blunt, and Millicent Simmonds.