A Quiet Place is a tense 90-minute focus on a family trying to live life quietly to avoid being hunted by predators. It’s a simple premise—one that hearkens back to the early days of film—that’s buoyed by the ingenious use, or the lack of, sound. The sound engineering is to be lauded as sounds are utilised expertly to play with the tension. Movie thrillers use music cues to heighten moods—composer Hans Zimmer uses an auditory illusion called the Shepard tone to ramp up the intensity in Dunkirk—and the silence for A Quiet Place is an exploration in how minimal one can go to still create a sense of dread.
This is a welcomed film in a world of expositions; books can be expositional but a visual medium like film works best when it ‘shows and not tell’. The original screenplay had only a single line of dialogue, which meant that 90 pages of the script are mostly scene descriptions; your imagination fill in the blanks and in a sense, by that same token, viewers are asked to fill in the absence of sounds.
That said, A Quiet Place is also an exercise in seeing how loud we, humans are, even when we’re keeping silent. I’ve seldom experienced a period where everyone in a movie theatre adheres to a code of quiescence during a screening. Hell, even within the holy-sanctum of the library isn’t spared from natters, snoring and the audible mastication of food. SOMEONE WAS EATING IN THE LIBRARY. Oh, what a world, what a world. There are reports of viewers being irritated by the crinkle of candy wrappers, talking (“What’s she doing, Harold?”), an errant phone ring and even breathing. The presence of other people can take you out of the experience of watching a film like A Quiet Place. But there were several moments, where the sounds of a scene drop and the white-knuckled, teeth-gritted audience are transfixed, that there in that perfect storm of silence, it felt like what a night out at the movies used to be, should be.’
A Quiet Place is now showing in theatres.