BEIRUT: Psycho, The Shining, Silence of the Lambs, Seven, all part of the history of cinematic psychological thrillers, leaving a mark on audiences, and now they are joined by A Quiet Place.
The film, without a prologue, tells the story of the Abbott family of four, as they navigate their lives in silence after mysterious creatures that hunt by sound threaten their survival.
Actor-Director John Krasinski crafts this film with a focus not on the “scares,” nor on the “creatures,” but on the aspect of the narrative’s core family, all the while ensuring that every single beat the narrative sets up is used and paid-off later in the film.
By placing emphasis on the family, Krasinski gives this film a level of intimacy that heightens the fear-filled experience of the overall picture.
A Quiet Place’s success rests on three elements of production.
The first is the shoulders of the cast due, to the fact that the narrative from a macro-level is a simple survival film; but on the micro-level, the film is about the family and their connection with each other, their love for each other, and how far parents would go to protect their own.
Emily Blunt delivers what is, by far, her most powerful and genuine performances of her career as the matriarch of the family.
Having to worry about giving birth to a new baby, while dealing with the loss of her youngest son, Blunt has to present a very dynamic, layered, and complex character in the most grounded way possible.
Blunt’s performance should force the Academy to nominate performances in genre films more often because she deserves a nod for this.
The two younger actors Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds, in many ways, upstage their older counterparts.
Millicent Simmonds, who is actually deaf, brings in a concreteness to her performance and a reality that helps in making the film feel more grounded.
Simmonds plays the feisty rebellious daughter, who is trying to figure out her place within her family and trying to come to terms with the loss of her youngest brother, while partly blaming herself for his passing and fearing that her father dislikes her.
Noah Jupe’s innocence and heart also offer the film its vulnerability, which is needed for a narrative like this; a young boy who has to grow up and endure the fear and struggle of learning how to be the man of the family.
John Krasinski’s maturity and ability to juggle three positions, (actor, director, and producer), also delivers a heart-felt performance as the family’s patriarch.
In a touching scene, Blunt’s Evelyn asks Krasinski’s Lee, “Who are we if we can’t protect them?” a question that resonates in this day and age with the world being a dark place.
Krasinski, a father of two, clearly brings forth his human and fatherly fears and infuses them into every single scene of the film.
The second aspect that brings forth A Quiet Place’s success is its intricate sound design and sound mixing.
Creating sonic envelopes, a dynamically layered soundscape that shifts perspectives to enrich the audience’s experience within the film, the sound designers and sound mixers strike a home run with their work on this feature.
Sound in the film is the enemy of this family; it is the antagonist of the film in many ways, which makes the narrative quite interesting.
The final element that ensures this film being listed in top psychological thriller lists is its universal ideology.
Sure, Krasinski has stated that the film is about what parents would do to protect their own, but deep down the film is more than that.
The film, with sound being the thing that brings about danger, tackles how families sometimes avoid speaking to each other in fear of hurting one another.
The father who won’t forget to remind his daughter that he loves her; the mother that can’t get over how in her heart she feels that she failed her son; the son who doesn’t want to take over his father’s role; and the daughter who wants to be a leader and not let herself be labeled by her disability.
This layer brings such a reality to the film that will hit you in your core.
A Quiet Place is a must-see, not as a psychological thriller, not for the adrenaline rush, but for its masterful craftsmanship as a film about the need for communication and the importance of family.
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