A QUIET PLACE (2018) is in many ways your typical post-apocalyptic horror fare but distinguishes itself as very good because of its primary conceit–making any noise earns you a grisly death in this world. This conceit skyrockets the tension and demands audience participation, where you find yourself holding your breath.
It’s 2020, and most of the world’s population has been wiped out by monsters (likely aliens) that are attracted to and attack anything that makes noise. On a rural farm, the Abbott family continues to survive along with other scattered survivors in the area. There’s Lee, the patient dad with mad survivalist skills; Evelyn, his warrior wife who is pregnant; deaf daughter Regan; and sons Marcus and Beau. When a noise at the house attracts the creatures, the family must fight to survive the night.
I’d thought this was a screen adaptation of Tim Lebbons’ novel THE SILENCE, which I’d read and liked. Lebbons’ novel was adapted, but this isn’t it, despite some on-the-nose similarities. THE SILENCE is coming out in December 2018.
A QUIET PLACE starts off well, immediately establishing the rules of this world (though with a heavily contrived moment that didn’t work for me until I considered it a suicide). All dialogue is sign language. The characters are continually terrified they’re going to make noise. This conceit draws the viewer in and makes for very tense viewing throughout. I would have preferred if the monsters stayed hidden to heighten the mystery and fear about them, but they’re revealed fairly early, and honestly didn’t do that much for me. (See THE RITUAL for a monster done really well.) The film takes itself very seriously on a dramatic level, though there isn’t enough depth in the family relationships to reach it.
In the end, A QUIET PLACE is a horror movie, with smart people doing dumb things and all, but with a fresh conceit powerfully executed. It’s clever in its great attention to detail and all the little mechanisms the family uses to communicate and survive. While the film isn’t as deep as it seems to aim, the characters are all likeable, and we want them to survive under constant harsh rules and with very high stakes, making this top-notch survival horror. Overall, THE QUIET PLACE is a good story with a strong execution, and while it didn’t hit every note for me, I really liked it.