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It’s 89 days into a hostile takeover by sound-sensitive creatures as A Quiet Place begins. Birds are gone. All of them. There’s not a single chirp passing in the sky. Whatever happened before this opening scene was unpleasant. Those events occurred with incredible speed too.

That’s the opening five minutes, a flashback of kind, establishing rules, the world, and the family central to A Quiet Place. Of itself, it’s a stellar short film. There’s enough character, embellishment, and tension to work, even when cut away from the rest. There’s still some 80-minutes to go though.

Appreciating A Quiet Place means admiring the craftsmanship and ingenuity involved. No, logic isn’t always sound and there’s cause to yell at the screen when characters do the wrong thing, but the overarching tension is often too paralyzing to care. A Quiet Place involves teethy monsters capable of wrecking someone in response to sound. Any sound. The biggest villain? An upturned nail on a set of stairs. That nail will lead to sound and sound leads to ugliness. Notably without those birds, A Quiet Place uses ambiance for mood. There’s little to hear otherwise. Sign language fills the dialog needs.

A Quiet Place is a story of human adaptation and determination when personal stakes become involved. This family, led by John Krasinski, figured how to survive. Sand softens their walkways and a game of Monopoly uses crocheted pieces, not the metal thimble. Monsters won’t render humanity extinct either – Krasinski and Emily Blunt decided to have a baby. Birthing without noise is a complicated procedure, FYI.

… rewrites the rules and how tension is driven, lured, and delivered

In the center is a heartfelt tale of fatherly love, beset by tragedy. Films of this ilk usually stick in a slate of derivative, drunken teens; A Quiet Place goes for something richer. As much as it belies the genre’s appreciation for splatter, A Quiet Place too drops the conventions of slasher stories by enriching the lead characters. Doing so with two scenes of spoken dialog is the masterstroke. People matter more so than the killers. Only cynics will root for these monsters.

Half-in scripts concerning monsters munching on people seem irrelevant post-A Quiet Place; this one rewrites the rules and how tension is driven, lured, and delivered. If not always smart in terms of plotting, then A Quiet Place makes up for those cinema sins with execution. Watching A Quiet Place means admiring the successes, how a near total lack of spoken exposition still sensibly delivers information plus how sound is smartly employed to maximize the choking fear.

Every minuscule noise draws in an additional fear. A girl walks through a hallway littered with dry leaves; there’s terror thinking she’ll step on one. Emily Blunt reaches for a bottle of pills, surrounded by more bottles of pills; she can’t tip that bottle. Wood floors beg to creak, metal waits for a clank, and corn field inevitably causes the shuffling of stalks. Movies utilize sound in creative ways often. Rarely though is sound such a harrowing monster, a vicious, unforgiving beast crueler than the alien/beings themselves.

Consider that a baby’s cry is worthy of mass panic and it’s clear how inhumane A Quiet Place enjoys being.

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A masterstroke of tension and delivery, A Quiet Place manages to make the sound of a newborn baby terrifying.

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