A second-class movie played by first-class actors. That’s the secret formula to the thriving success of A Quiet Place, which just became the movie with the biggest box office opening since Black Panther.
And it’s not that Hollywood has never tried the combination before—on the contrary, they’ve done it over and over again. Only that this time, A Quite Place mixes the best of both worlds. And that’s why it works.
The apocalyptic plot is what we would classify as second-class. A near-future where humanity is attacked by voracious monster with super-hearing. They can’t see, nor smell, but they’re able to pick up almost any noise and devour that who makes it in the process.
First-class are actress Emily Blunt and husband John Krasinsky—who not only plays lead but also directs the project—, and their two on-screen children, actors Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds. With this amazing cast, the film manages to transmit the full spectrum of imaginable emotions in a devastated planet where one sound equals death.
The argument is fascinating and original. It generates a strong narrative restriction that enhances the drama: the characters can’t talk, they communicate by sign language, and the quality of that silent communication has a huge suggestive power.
Facial expressions and body language acquire a sense of survival that had never before been emphasized to that extreme in a commercial film. The absence of voices is somehow replaced by a brilliant soundtrack, which is handled with sufficient subtlety so that the contrast between human silence and dramatic musical underlining doesn’t hinder the sense of suspense and terror.
The movie is complemented by the gradual explosion of the dimension of tragedy that the family lives in, and the exquisite parallel of the progressive reveal of the blind and killing creatures. In that way, the movie is an absolute triumph, because Krasinky perfectly solves the dilemma of how much it should be shown and how much it should remain hidden in this genre.
Under the classic premise that fear is not fear but true empathy, A Quite Place offers what is perhaps the best horror film of the year.