I got the hiccups in the movie theater watching A Quiet Place, and not just your everyday, normal-sounding hiccups. No, mine were worthy of extensive study in a secret government lab. As I sat there, slumped in my seat, my whole arm covering my mouth, I realized that it was quite possibly the best horror movie I’d ever seen. The sheer brilliance of not allowing people to be, well, people in the theater, making us think that every chomp of the popcorn, every shift in the seat brought the creatures one step closer… I’ve not seen anything like that and probably never will again.
If you’re not familiar, A Quiet Place (starring Emily Blunt and John Krasinski) is a story of a family living in a post-apocalyptic world, one where we’re not sure what happened except it involved monsters. The viewer arrives when the characters are deep in the apocalypse, already knowing that even the slightest of sounds can bring death. Right from the start, we are treated to a pulse-pounding scene which results in the death of one of their sons.
The movie doesn’t let up there. In fact, there are very few moments when the viewer is allowed to relax. At the end of the 90-minute film, I looked at the others with me, all of whom had the same crazed expressions. I had spent maybe thirty minutes anxiously shoveling popcorn in my mouth (only to chew as quietly as possible) and the last hour alternating between covering my mouth and holding the edge of my seat. Apparently, so had all of my movie-going buddies. We had no concept of ninety minutes passing, let alone really knowing where we were in the moment. The movie had us that gripped.
Our favorite prankster from The Office (Krasinski) not only starred in the movie, but he also directed it, and beautifully so. There wasn’t a moment that wasn’t perfectly timed. Instead of feeling as if the movie dragged on needlessly, every second was efficient and necessary. But, it wasn’t just the scares that made the movie great. I don’t remember getting so attached to characters in such a short period of time as I did with this family. Perhaps it was the death of the young one at the beginning, but it was quite a feat given that the characters barely spoke out loud. They did use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate, at times, but even the use of ASL was limited. They were simply likeable characters in a horrible situation.
I didn’t realize it until after the movie, but the movie is clean. No sex, swearing, nudity, and minimal gore and blood. I loved it. To accomplish what was done with this level of horror and fear without all of the obligatory things often thrown into movies makes this an even more incredible film. If only more horror directors would take this road.
The uniqueness of this movie made it ideal for movie theater viewing, but it plays out just as well on the small screen. When re-watching this film in a dark room at night, with doors and windows shut, and no distractions made me feel like I was right back in the theater and in this post-apocalyptic world – minus the hiccups. It is a definite must-watch this and every Halloween season.