Consider all of the small gestures you go through during your daily routine. This may include brushing your teeth, washing your face, or cooking yourself dinner. Now think to yourself, do each of these small actions make a sound? How would you minimize the sounds emitted by each of these mere movements and motions?
This may be an interesting thought experiment. But for the Abbott family in the film “A Quiet Place,” silence means survival and muffling noises is a crucial precaution to be taken in order to remain alive.
The manipulation of natural sounds, inclusion of score, minimal dialogue, and meticulous use of silence created a film that was as thrilling and intense as it was emotional and brilliant.
Manhunting creatures exist in this family’s post-apocalyptic world and they would murder anything that made itself loud enough to be heard. Each footstep, breath and bush rustle was magnified beautifully, creating an anxious heart-wrenching effect.
Directed and written by the cast’s main star, John Krasinski, this film included a tight-knit family of two parents, with his wife Emily Blunt playing the mother, and their two children played by Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe. This family lived off of a farm, which meant they were already self-sustainable to some degree as well as resourceful.
The rhetorical thought of “if we were the last people on earth” becomes a reality for these characters as resources are scarce outside of their farm. The only signs they find of other human life show that those other survivors are still very far away. This close-knit family is ultimately stranded and must adapt to the ways of their deaf daughter to learn to live with silence as well as learning to silence themselves.
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Of course, this movie would not be nearly as intense or induce such a strong “I can’t look away” feeling within the audience if it weren’t for the build up surrounding an inevitably loud event that the family had been anticipating for an excruciatingly long amount of time — the birth of a child. How do you give birth to a child without making a sound? Is it possible?
This climactic event had been placed in the back of the audiences’ heads. Even smaller incidents, mishaps, and concerns were dramatized to fully engulf each viewer in individual scenarios that seem impossible to stay silent throughout. It’s all in the details. I won’t give it away, but you will scream and gasp over a very small piece of metal.
Awareness of the sounds of one’s surroundings that are often taken for granted is a larger takeaway from this film. For those who are fully capable of hearing, the film makes them more sensitive to just how loud a river stream or the crack of a tree branch can be. There is a transformative internalization within each viewer of the noise pollution they create as individuals and as parts of a greater society.
The use of American Sign Language in order for the family to survive creates an enjoyable and representative movie for the hearing-impaired community as well as others. These prestigious Hollywood actors have demonstrated such great emotions through their expressions that dialogue is not needed to tell their story. Simmonds is a deaf actress that worked with the cast to teach them ASL and connect with each other beyond words.
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This allows those who are capable of hearing to think to themselves, “Wow! I can sit through a full movie without dialogue and still enjoy it.”
Simply forcing hearing audience members to switch their perception to match that of someone else who lives in silence can create greater acceptance and understanding between people with different hearing capabilities. This will result in a greater viewing experience for all in attendance.
Despite the score and perfectly amplified, or rather silenced, sound waves, the cinematography of this film is also incredible. There are multiple breathtaking scenes of simple profile shots and broader scenic shots. A specific visual that stood out to me was a scene that contained all family members with the glare of the sun providing a divide between a few of them during a dispute.
Some cooperation, extreme caution and just enough courage served as essentials towards prolonging this family’s survival. But the issue then became sustaining such tactics especially through some situations in which most people would not be able to prevent themselves from screaming out for help or in terror.
Though this movie lacks the ghosts, ghouls, chainsaws and pop-out scares that typify the horror genre, the fear induced during this film is valid, common, relevant and one that all human adults and children possess. It will not simply be revealed to you at the end that the events contained throughout the story were simply in one character’s head, like the scam endings of psychological thrillers either.
This movie is truly scary, yet in its own special way as it still pokes at very ephemeral and instinctive frights.
If you want to see how this story plays out for this family and if whether their love for each other is enough to keep them together, go see “A Quiet Place” in theaters near you April 5.