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A Quiet Place is a gripping, taught piece of work that’s not only an interesting experiment in its sound design choices, but a genuinely great survival movie about one family. Horror movies are often best when they are personal, and director John Krasinski recognizes that telling one family’s story amidst a crisis is the most effectively emotional way to scare the audience.

In the aftermath of an apocalyptic event that wiped out much of the Earth’s population, a family consisting of Lee Abbott (John Krasinski), Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt), Regan Abbott (Millicent Simmons), and Marcus Abbott (Noah Jupe) have survived by creating a solitary home in the middle of a farm where every safety precaution has been taken. However, the mysterious creatures that hunt them possess a remarkable sense of hearing, forcing the survivors to be as silent as possible in order to avoid their predators.

Clearly, the silence of the film is it’s engaging factor, and by isolating the noises to the point in which simply breathing is noticeable, Krasinski is able to keep the audience engaged within the film’s entire runtime. There are rarely moments of levity and there’s never a safe space for our characters to escape to, and the simple routines of the characters’ lives add to the tension we see in the film’s ending. At only 90 minutes, there’s very little baggage, and it’s rare that a film is able to be some engaging for its entirety.

The other incredibly smart decision that Krasinski makes as a director is that the film basically functions as the third act of a larger story; outside of a brief opening scene (which brilliantly sets up both the rules of the world and the emotional stakes), there’s little explanation given to where these creatures come from, because in the scope of the story, it doesn’t really matter. Krasinski focuses on the most exciting part of the story from the beginning, and the uniformly excellent cast are able to sell the family’s emotional complexities as the stakes get more intense.

A Quiet Place is a thrilling piece of work, a great execution of a unique concept, and a surprisingly emotional family drama layered into a terrifying end result. The film plays on our fear of isolation and the unknown by involving us in wonderful characters, and doesn’t allow us to feel comfortable as it always has another scare up its sleeve. Grade: A-