I’ve always believed that when it comes to cinema, less is more. There are those like James Cameron who believe that more is more, but that’s a topic for another day.
The reason I believe less is more is that it allows filmmakers to let the audience create a small part of the film inside their heads and therefore become more involved in the film. This works best for horror films and films where a filmmaker wishes to crank up the tension.
People would tell Ridley Scott after they saw Alien that they liked how the Alien got bigger and bigger every time they saw it, but in actual fact, it was the same person in the same costume. It was the mind of the audience adding that little detail that drew them in more to the film.
With A Quiet Place, we are introduced to a post-apocalyptic setting. Something has happened, all we know as an audience is that whatever it is that’s out there uses sound to locate its victims.
The film is mostly silent, apart from natural ambient noises. The main characters rarely speak via vocalisations, mainly using gestures and sign language. The first thing you will notice when watching this in a crowded cinema is how loud the rest of the audience is, from slurping of drinks to the masticating of popcorn.
The film is beautifully shot in muted colours as if the soul of the characters has been drained from them. In his third film as a director, John Krasinski (who also co-wrote and stars) shows real talent. He has a good eye for visuals, deft handling of pace and timing and a writer’s understanding of structure. This results in often pleasingly beautiful imagery – never a bad thing in the horror genre – and a handful of very good thriller scenes.
The sound design and sound mixing are excellent and are used to amazing effect.
The cast does a fantastic job of making the audience feel a sense of unsettledness and dread. When something as simple as a sneeze or a cough could spell death for everyone, the smallest of sounds are felt like a cannon going off and will have everyone on the edge of their seats.