Gimmicks can be a double-edged sword in movies: they can either make the experience feel unique (e.g. Baby Driver), or like a one-trick pony (e.g. Boyhood). However, in the context of a horror movie, a gimmick might make the experience one of the most tense viewings you can have. Such is the case with A Quiet Place, directed by John Krasinski: in a post-apocalyptic world where creatures hyper-sensitive to sound have destroyed most of humanity, a family (with Krasinski and his wife Emily Blunt as the parents) must do everything in silence to survive.
We are too used to going to the movie theater and having to endure people in the audience either talking, using their smartphones, or eating loudly their over-priced popcorns. A testament to how effective A Quiet Place was is that, from beginning to end, nobody in the theater I was in made a noise (except for one guy who fell asleep halfway through, which lightened the mood for everybody). Since the creatures are fast and very sensitive to even the lightest of noises, the family in the film barely utters a word, using ASL (American Sign Language) to communicate (one of the kids, Millicent Simmonds, is actually deaf in real life). The sound design is fantastic, as it should in such a film, and there are so many quiet moments that even the slightest noise sounds like an explosion.
Krasinski surprises as a director: he is mostly known for playing nice guys on TV, and he has also directed two subpar dramatic comedies, but his work here shows how much talent and range he has. Not only is the tension masterfully built, but the pacing itself is some of the fastest and meanest I’ve experienced, making a 90-minute film feel like a short film. The acting by everybody involved is quite great, and everyone gets their time to shine (one scene with Emily Blunt in particular was nail-biting). It also felt quite refreshing to see characters in an end-of-the-world scenario actually use their wits to survive: they have sound-proof in the house, and, in order to walk by making no noise, they spread sand over the roads and floors. The creature design is not particularly original (think a Hunter from Resident Evil meets the Cloverfield monster), but their reveal is slow and methodical, and their threat never fades away.
Overall, A Quiet Place is one of the best creature-features and thrillers to be released in quite some time: excellent pacing and sound design, solid direction, smart storytelling, and committed performances make this one of the best films of the year, and among the finest thrillers of the past two years.
Visual Effects: 8
Violence & Gore: 7
Sex & Nudity: 3
Drugs & Profanity: 2
Intensity & Horror: 7.5