A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place ★★★½

Listen to me...

Human bodies cannot help but make noise. Maybe too simplistic a statement, but life can almost be equated with the production of sound. Given that, the conceit of A Quiet Place - that to survive, the body must stop making sound - makes for some cleverly suspenseful set pieces. Screenwriters Bryan Woods and Scott Beck should be commended for conceiving of such an irresistible hook and will likely make their careers off of that concept alone. How John Krasinski has elevated that idea - attempting to flesh out the family dynamics underlying the gimmick - is also commendable. The compounded dread and tension of the pregnancy escape sequence alone deserves credit for using the Sci-Fi concept to the fullest effect.

That said, A Quiet Place rests on the novelty of a near dialog-less mainstream release. Krasinski may showcase an unexpected talent for visual storytelling (his compositions and camera moves are at times almost Spielbergian in their ability to piece together narrative information for the audience) but his handling of spatial geography, especially in the case of the two basements used by the family, becomes confusing. Spatial issues are a minor problem, however, in a film whose internal rules can be inconsistent or softened to facilitate a set piece. Namely, how loud is too loud? For example, characters are shown running at full speed with backpacks, an action that all viewers know from experience produces sounds that have been left out or diminished in the mix. Krasinski and his sound team clearly chose to emphasize the quiet of the title and gimmick, building near silent environments rather than a naturalistic soundscape. Where character's footsteps down wooden basement steps barely make a squeak, unlike the sounds stairs that age would likely make, the crew has eliminated those nuances to streamline the complication of the world's rules. If those sounds were left in and the creatures still operated the same way, the family would be killed almost immediately. A more indy, less mainstream version of the concept might have produced a more complex world and set of rules which, in turn, would yield set pieces that evolved rather than repeated the same gag.

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