To truly appreciate A Quiet Place, you have to see it in theaters
I hate movie talkers. If you go buy a movie ticket, and then sit in a theater next to strangers, and then start talking during the movie, then you are a lower level of human being in my eyes. In a perfect world, racism and sexism and ableism and all -isms would be eliminated and we would only discriminate based on whether or not you are a person that talks in movie theaters.
In my screening of A Quiet Place, no one was talking, and everyone was hyper-aware of the silence in the theater. The film, directed by and starring John Krasinski (The Office), takes place in a near-future dystopia that has fallen prey to alien invasion. These aliens are blind, though, and thus attack only on sound. The movie centers on Krasinski and his family carefully surviving in this world by not making any noise.
By making sound the central conceit, Krasinski imbues every moment with tension. Even the most silent scenes are tense, because you never know when an accidental noise will trigger an alien attack. It’s a cheap trick, to a certain extent: there are plenty of movies in which characters hide from monsters, unable to make a sound lest they risk their lives, and those films don't have to call attention to this fact. Regardless, it’s a highly effective trick. A Quiet Place is pure tension for 90 minutes, as if the most suspenseful moments from Alien and Jurassic Park were given their own feature-length treatment.
This tension exists beyond the screen, though: watching A Quiet Place was one of the most intense moviegoing experiences I’ve ever had in a theater. Everyone in the theater was aware of every creak, every itch, every breath. And that awareness, in turn, made the peril the characters faced even more exciting. I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a movie theater where I was more aware of the shared experience of the screening. If you’re going to see this movie, see it in theaters.
Beyond this brilliant concept, A Quiet Place is kind of goofy. The film plays as hyper-serious, but I couldn’t help myself from chuckling at some of the few spoken lines (or screams) in the movie. The set-up for the film’s most tense moment is also ridiculous: in a world where you must remain silent to survive...you are having a baby? The memes are inevitable; the SNL sketch is imminent. The Ringer’s K. Austin Collins puts it best:
A Quiet Place is a classic example of a film that needed to be either better or worse to really be good. It needed either to embrace that it’s a dumb horror movie populated by dumb people making dumb choices and revel in that fact, as its premise is more than prepared to do, or to earn its self-seriousness with real complication and compassion, preferably something beyond poorly scripted dramatic arcs and the lonesome Americana of Krasinski’s beard.
Is A Quiet Place about anything beyond this horror concept? Is it about raising a family in a chaotic world? Is it an allegory for what I wish would happen to people who talk during movies? Who’s to say. I don’t think it’s about anything, really, besides having a damn good time at the movies. Sometimes, that’s enough.
A Quiet Place: 3 stars