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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | November 12, 2019

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A Quiet Place Speaks Volumes

A Quiet Place Speaks Volumes
Amelia Howell

Subversive and subtle, A Quiet Place employs the premise that silence is safe and sound is deadly.

Set in the post-apocalyptic year of 2020, the film centres on the Abbott family surviving a species of alien monsters who have wiped out the majority of the population. They’re blind- but they hunt sound, leaving these characters leading a near-silent life, communicating through sign language due to Regan, the youngest daughter’s deafness.

Horror has long been a place for experimentation and innovation, and A Quiet Place does not disappoint. Directed, written and starred in by John Krasinski, the new release produced by Platinum Dunes elevates the genre to new heights with its unique play on sound to create its tension and thrills.

Often, the moment of silence in film marks impending doom, but the sound design of this thriller-horror turns the convention on its head. Instead, the family lives tensely in silence. Any noise at all- a baby’s fussing, the laundry, even a game of Monopoly means the difference between life and death. The characters literally tiptoe through their house, even the quietest places on floorboards are padded with sand like a game of chess.

This silence enhances not only tension, but atmosphere, too. Paired with the colour grade’s warm, autumnal tones, the audience is forced to become truly active listeners as we hear only the sounds of nature: the rush of a waterfall, animals scurrying in the trees, the rustle of the cornfields. Its natural minimalism brings the audience down to earth, reminding us that, at its heart, this story is rooted in the human experience of love and of family.

In a genre that typically uses gore as a crutch, the film is stained by little blood. When it does come, it’s even more effective- a terrifying warning of what’s to come. Most deaths occur offscreen, focusing the lens squarely on death’s emotional impact. The impact is felt tenfold when the characters must suppress all emotion, like Lee keeping his hand locked over his son’s mouth. Most horrifying is Evelyn’s pregnancy, as she faces the impossible prospect of giving birth in silence. In this sense, the family is left truly unable to mourn or to grieve. Even the release of tears must be soundless.

Within a current landscape typically overloaded with sequels and reboots, A Quiet Place is a nerve-shredding ninety-five minutes done with absolute grace and subtlety, truly proving that those who continue to innovate will pave the way forward for horror, and for film.

Image credit: IMDB