Anchored by exponentially gripping performances, and a direction that navigates the audience to untouched paradigms of horror, A Quiet Place is a cathartic genre-film that welcomes John Krasinski to a lineup of masterful contemporary directors.
The film uses its chilling silence to draw the audience in, and it grips you so tightly with its eerie quietness, with every jolt of sudden sound will make your nerves erupt. Sound is perhaps the main character of the film, acting both as the protagonist and the villain. Its absence is a mere relief, yet the anticipation of every incoming soundbite brings uncanny tension that seems to be unstoppable from start to finish. Krasinski used the character of sound to create an unsettling friction throughout the movie, making it an unnerving experience other than just a regular film viewing. The audience is involved all throughout. The stillness of the movie’s narrative aims to pull the viewers in a magnetic field of terror. It grabs you by the neck, and it won’t let you go.
Recent horror films like Get Out, Don’t Breathe and Cloverfield have introduced a new wave of the genre that doesn’t just aim to give a fright. These trailblazers to the genre have revamped succeeding horror films into stylish, full-bodied, socially relevant commentaries that unmask the dark layers of reality. A Quiet Place is no exception in the continuance of that conversation.
Epitomizing Undertones: The Prey and the Predator
Get Out didn’t really have undertones — it was quite an in-your-face punch to white supremacy. Don’t get me wrong — it worked beautifully. However, the bliss of A Quiet Place is that every commentary is layered in metaphors that come unexpected. From the entrapment of children (a subtle strike to pedophilia to underage preys), to Emily Blunt’s disturbing labor scene (which denotes silencing harassment), the movie perfectly embraces the purpose of undertones on film.
In an era where our political climate seemed to be unraveling, particularly sexual offenders and predators, the noise of testimonies from both men and women who have been victims of these acts are starting to spew out. Naturally, to protect these crime instigators, silencing their victims has been a very popular trend for the past few decades. Parallel to the film, its main theme is “stay quiet to survive.” In reality, these victims have been silenced to still have a continuous way of life — the validation of their careers; the acceptance from their peers; and most importantly, the preservation of their self-respect. It has been criminally normalized that coming out from these claims will end whatever that is left of you, as if having a voice to assert your right to justice connotes to the stigma of ending your own life. The film is a reflection of that preposterous, yet equally relevant reality.
Anatomy of a Scene: Giving Birth in the Bathtub
In lieu to the abovementioned political undertones that the film possesses, it was perfectly epitomized in the scene where Emily Blunt undergoes labor, and eventually gives birth in the bathtub; needless to say, while keeping her mouth shut in silence in order to save herself and her unborn child. An impossible thing to do, Blunt struggles and fights to endure the pain in quiet terror.
Giving birth is perhaps the most raw, intimate, and personal event a woman’s body could undergo. Fighting against the excruciating pain is not just a torture to a woman’s physiological reflex of release, but also a violation to a human’s dire need to be vulnerable at a time that calls for vulnerability — all for the goal to “stay quiet to survive.” Blunt’s petrified face whilst in labor as the monster lurks around the corner is a classic archetype of predators passively silencing their victims to fight for their lives.
Emily Blunt gives a career-defining performance as a mother whose strength and vulnerability bask the audience, catapulted by a direction meant to highlight her exquisite dramatic techniques. Her labor scene is perhaps one of the most iconic moments of any horror films to date. A bold statement: the performance will stand the test of time, and will be recognized by guilds of accolades even with such an early release, similar to that of Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out. This needs serious consideration for later this year’s awards.
In a nutshell, A Quiet Place didn’t need a spoken word to stir a triumph of emotions — terror, love for family, hope, and the pivotal battle to survive. An avant garde direction that gives another meaning to the household of new wave horror films, and a perfectly orchestrated performance by a committed cast are all it needed. There’s simply nothing like this in the history of horror filmmaking.
5 out of 5 stars
Thank you, Director’s Club and SM Cinema, for the invite to see A Quiet Place!
Book your tickets through the new website, www.smcinema.com or for an even more convenient experience, get the SM Cinema mobile app. Stay tuned to SM Cinema on Facebook and @SM_Cinema on Instagram for more information.