'A QUIET PLACE' - A Study in Silence and Sound
Most films that categorize themselves as horror in the modern day overuse the technique of being quiet for a moment only to smash a loud noise through the curtain in hopes of gaining a jump scare. Most of the time this comes off as cheap and unearned. If my wife drops a dish behind me as I am pouring a glass of water, she is not suddenly Hitchcock. Just clumsy in that moment. In John Krasinski's "A Quiet Place", these moments work and are earned due to the use of silence as a storyteller throughout the piece. It also utilizes loud noise appropriately and in keeping with its rules.
Combine this effectiveness with a strong visual language and monsters that are threatening from the go and you have a well crafted work that not only succeeds as a horror film but as an effective drama with the entire cast (however limited in number) giving great performances. The setting is limited in scope which helps towards intimacy and for obvious reasons, Krasinski and Blunt work extremely well together on screen. Young actors can always trip up a horror film but Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe seem quite comfortable in front of the camera.
The rules of the universe are followed pretty well except for small instances where I was not sure what constituted a noise loud enough the gain the attention of the spider-like horrors that inhabit the landscape. Specifically, a character is making a racket while pushing their way through a corn field and I really expected that to have severe consequences. It did not. You can argue that the creatures were occupied elsewhere but where there are three, I only saw one engaged elsewhere.
The only real hiccup for me has to deal with the "mystery" of the film but I will address that in a later paragraph labeled spoiler so no one is hit by surprise.
Very minor bumps aside "A Quiet Place" is a great small scope horror drama that works best while while shrouded in silence and making us wonder where the threat will come from.
Now if I can address the detail that really bugged me...
SPOILERS - SPOILERS - SPOILERS - SPOILERS - SPOILERS
The basis of the threat to humanity are these creatures that can track you nearly instantly by sound. A newspaper in Krasinski's make-shift lab features a newspaper headline declaring "IT'S SOUND". That tells me that a fair portion of civilization was still functioning as the time of this discovery. Functioning enough for newspapers to get printed and delivered at least. I would assume the armies of the world were still up and going at that time.
So, if a threat were attacking and you suss out that they track by sound, what would be one of the very first things you would test as a combative response? Again, you have figured out that they track by sound alone. You then know that they have highly sensitive hearing.
Sonic Waves. Right? Is that not kind of obvious? In a world where newspapers are still a thing how did no one figure to test some sort of sonic weapon? I though of it instantly when I read the headline. Krasinski even has a chalk board that serves as exposition and it questions what their "weakness" may be. Maybe it's just that I read a lot of Daredevil growing up but this seems incredibly obvious yet more than a year has gone by without any advancement on this possibility? I guess the Army, and all scientific branches of the world, were wiped out before newspapers were ceased? Perhaps I am reading too much into it but it's treated as a reveal in the films climax but it seems right on front street.