In a life that’s purposely kept silent—a world perpetually underscored by nothing more than soft huffs of breeze through the tree boughs and the whispers of bare feet on sand—the slightest blunder can sound cacophonous. In this quiet place, a fumbled board game piece rings out like a gunshot. A toppled kerosene lamp roars like a detonation.
Anything above and beyond that, though, brings instant death.
This new era of enforced silence commenced a few months ago, when the ever-hearing creatures first appeared. They’re nearly indestructible in their armored, insectile form. And they’re fast as a whip crack in their vicious attacks.
The best the few human survivors can discern is that the alien things are totally blind. But they can hear more keenly than anything else known to man. A dropped object or raised voice will bring them screaming through the corn fields and forests from a mile away.
However, Lee Abbot, his wife Evelyn, and their two kids, Regan and Marcus, have managed. True, they’ve endured terrible losses. But they’ve learned to make their lives as totally and utterly quiet as is feasibly possible. They’ve insulated everything they use. They’ve poured out long trails of footstep-muffling sand. They speak only in sign language. They send long-distance messages through strings of lightbulbs and small fires on the highest points possible.
This is mankind’s new reality. And as a family, the Abbots are ready to live it for as long as necessary.
The only problem is that Evelyn is now very pregnant. And babies … aren’t exactly the quiet types.
The Abbots’ emotions have been intensified by the constant threat surrounding them. They love each other fiercely. And that deep affection drives them to work hard to protect one another. “Who are we, if we can’t protect them?” Evelyn asks her husband in a moment of great peril. And in that light, both parents are ready and willing to put their lives on the line for their kids. Reagan and Marcus mirror that self-sacrificial attitude as well.
For teen Reagan, however, her ratcheted-up emotions also cause her to believe that her father hates her for a choice she made that contributed to a tragic loss in the family. But Lee later makes it clear that his love for her has never wavered.
Before a meal, the family members hold hands and silently pray their thanks.
The origins of the invading alien creatures are never explained, but they are definitely otherworldly monsters. It’s implied that just three of the deadly beasties have killed nearly everyone in the town and countryside near the Abbots’ farm. The threat of their dangerous presence is constant. The creatures’ talon-tipped attacks rip and rend everything from furniture and walls to the metal exteriors of vehicles and farm buildings.
We see the beasts slash out with their angled, arachnid-like limbs on numerous occasions. In one case, a small child is snatched up in a flash. Other times, human victims are struck or flung aside like rag dolls. We never see an actual flesh-rending strike, but we do see the bloody aftermath in a couple cases. (A screeching raccoon is struck, leaving behind a smear of gore, for instance. An elderly woman is left for dead, her clothing torn and bloodied.)
Someone steps on an exposed nail on a staircase. We then see her slowly pull her skewered foot off the metal spike and limp around, leaving bloody footprints in her wake. Someone also falls into a grain silo and sinks down under the suffocating corn.
[Spoiler Warning] Evelyn’s blood pools in a bath tub as she begins to give birth. She leaves a bloody handprint on a glass shower door. We also see a creature blasted with a shotgun and left dead in a pool of its own blood-like fluids.
Evelyn gives Marcus prescription medication that she scavenges from a local drugstore.
Like many a sci-fi and horror film before it, it’s easy to see A Quiet Place through an allegorical lens. We live in a world bursting with threats—both real and exaggerated, nearby and faraway—that daily remind us how deadly our world can be. A Quiet Place builds its narrative upon that sense of brooding tension and unceasing anxiety.
But even if metaphors and allegories aren’t your cup of tea, there are other elements worth appreciating in this completely gripping pic.
A Quiet Place is a stark tale of fighting for survival in the face of a horrific, insidious threat. Through the family at its core—their fears, self-sacrifice and silent-but-terrified communication—the story draws us in and keeps us on the edge of our seats from the opening title to the closing credits. Star and director John Krasinski, along with his real-life wife (who also plays his onscreen spouse here), masterfully ratchet up the slow-drip tension, bit-by-bit. What happens along the way can sometimes be as shocking as it is soundless.
Now, that’s not to suggest that there aren’t any negatives to call out here. Though the most horrible visuals lurk just outside our view, heart-pounding peril and heartrending loss (some of it accompanied by after-the-fact images of bloodshed) definitely warrant leaving the youngsters at home with a sitter.
For the rest of us, though, A Quiet Place’s first-rate filmmaking panache and moments of intense familial love and sacrifice can turn a quiet night at home with nothing to do … into a disquieting cinematic consideration of the stuff we value most.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.