Illustration by Fintan O’Sullivan
In a huge step out of his comfort zone, John Krasinski has directed, written, and starred in one of the best horror movies of the century, A Quiet Place. I am both appalled and amazed by the sheer genius of this movie. Not only did Krasinski create a stupendous thriller, he provided a platform for deaf people everywhere through his casting of a deaf actress to play his daughter. Having gotten his start as the lovable Jim on everybody’s favorite mockumentary, The Office, this movie was entirely unexpected, making its success all the more momentous.
In the movie’s post-apocalyptic world, demonic creatures with heightened hearing capability have destroyed most of the Earth’s population. One isolated family has managed to adapt life to be completely soundless, ensuring that the monsters will not find and kill them. They communicate through American Sign Language (ASL), which all of the actors learned for the movie. Ultimately, when the father must make a monumental sacrifice for his children, the viewer realizes that the true message of the film revolves around love and sacrificing everything for your family’s safety.
The most important aspect of this movie is that it exposes the general public to deaf culture. The use of ASL as the main form of communication in a movie is incredibly rare. In fact, it’s hard to find movies that use it at all. Listed on the website DeafMovies.org, there happens to be only 25 full-length films in ASL. To reiterate, the author of this website has only been able to find these 25 movies out of the whole history of film where ASL is used and can be interpreted by deaf people. For reference, there were over seven hundred American films released in 2016 alone. Obviously, deaf people and culture are not being adequately represented in mainstream media, similarly to other disabled people. A Quiet Place has almost no talking in it and features a deaf actress, which at its level of popularity allows it to advance deaf awareness and create a representation that was sorely missing from Hollywood. Moviegoers will be reminded that a movie doesn’t need to have sound to be well done, and will be forced to acknowledge a culture that they may have forgotten about.
Besides, it’s just a really incredible movie. With no dialogue to drive the story, the actors had to perform outstandingly in order for their situation to be believable, which they did without missing a beat. Their ability to convey emotion and invoke tension was prodigious, leaving the audience with a sense of realness that was unshakable. The result of the stupendous acting and directing is a constant sense of anxiety, which is actually somewhat uncommon in the horror genre because most directors include few breaks from the action throughout the movie to give the audience room to breathe.
With no breaks, chronic action, and one or more of the characters in constant danger, there is nowhere for the audience to escape from the horror. Hence, when the ending finally came — the glorious, hardcore, uplifting ending — I was allowed to leave the theater pumped full of excitement and energy. No other movie has ever left me with such a rush of endorphins. Adding to its marvelousness was its defiance of stereotypical horror movie endings. Typically, we would see either a complete conquering of the villain or an ominous threat to its continued reign of terror, A Quiet Place leaves us with a definitive method of killing the monsters and the knowledge that the remaining characters will use it to the best of their ability. In a way, it’s more conclusive than most horror movies, since what comes next is up to the viewer’s interpretation (and the viewer will pencil in a happy ending for themselves).
With such selective usage of sound, what we do hear is hugely important to the film. From the music to the effects, every aspect has an enormous impact on the audience and on the scope of the film. It’s a surprise twist to have a movie be carried by its lack of sound, rather than other movies in its genre where sound is known most for instilling fear.
The visuals are stunning as well. Krasinski stated in an interview with journalist Steve Weintraub that he wanted A Quiet Place to feel stylistically Western, which he achieved beautifully through his use of scenery and rustic atmosphere. Really, every little thing in this movie is done amazingly well.
Krasinski calls A Quiet Place a love letter to his kids, and despite his evident prowess as a director of horror, that rings true. We see that both parents in the movie would sacrifice anything for their children, the mother even saying, “Who are we if we can’t protect them?” We are led to understand that although A Quiet Place is a brilliant horror film, it is truly meant to portray the love and bond that parents have for their children.
Audiences are impressed by John Krasinski’s performance creation. Being out of character for him, a comedic actor best known for his office pranks, his decision to direct and write this movie is all the more thrilling and places him in a new class of talent. A Quiet Place takes horror to a new level, so please enlighten yourself and go see it, you will not be disappointed.