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“A Quiet Place:” An Interesting Experiment

By James Trent
On April 11, 2018

The silence feels like a knife constantly looming over the characters' heads.
Photo Courtesy of Variety

 

Warning: contains spoilers
 
Released on April 6, “A Quiet Place” breaks many of the horror movie clichés and creates a unique cinematic experience. 
 
Anyone familiar with horror movies is familiar with the tropes of the genre. One of the easiest tells of a scare is the ominous silence right before something very loud happens. The sudden silence creates tension and puts the audience on edge so that the scare is more impactful. “A Quiet Place” takes this trope and pushes it to new heights. 
 
The story follows a small family in an unnamed area of the American Midwest. It begins on day 89 of some apocalyptic disaster. Monsters have appeared that are blind but incredibly sensitive to sound and attack anything they hear. If the monsters hear any sound, they appear in seconds to destroy whatever made the noise, and so the family must stay quiet or risk being killed at any second.
 
The silence is completely overwhelming throughout the film. Unlike the trope, silence is not used as a gimmick or a simple device. Where some movies have quiet parts and then a lot of loud sequences, it would be accurate to say that “A Quiet Place” has some loud parts and a lot of quiet moments. The silence is practically suffocating, and every small noise, like bottles lightly shifting on a shelf, feels like a knife hanging over the characters’ heads. The movie’s monsters are not shown very often, and never for very long, but their presence feels more and more menacing as the silence continues until the very end of the film.
 
The movie is not very concerned with characters and is pretty light on plot as well. The characters do not even have given names, and each member of the family feels more like an archetype than a fully developed person. There is no real story to follow either, with just a few points of narrative interest in the hour and a half long film. 
 
What the film is really focused on is the tension and silence of the movie, and it feels all the better for it. The film fully develops its quiet ambiance in such a way that an involved story would become distracting, and the audience is able to fully immerse themselves in the deaf world the characters inhabit. It makes the film stand out from any theatrically released horror movie in recent memory, and the entire film feels like an interesting experiment of just how little noise a movie needs to be a complete experience. 
 
2016’s “Don’t Breathe” tried a similar thing but did not fully commit to its silence like “A Quiet Place.” “Don’t Breathe” had a lot of notable problems, mainly its excessive usage of slasher-film clichés paired with an incredibly poor narrative. Its interesting segments of silence felt just a step or two away from the trope it was building off, while “A Quiet Place” completely drowns the audience in its silence. There’s no distracting, poorly thought out story in “A Quiet Place,” no characters that only exist for the audience to hope for their deaths, and, unfortunately for “Don’t Breathe” fans, no dubious turkey basters. 
 
Some movies need to be seen in theaters to get the full experience, but “A Quiet Place” may not be that kind of movie. The movie’s atmosphere is so controlled that any single noise or distraction puts a dent in it and sucks the audience member out of the experience. In fact, the film is so quiet at times that, at least at the Mercer Mall’s theater, sounds from other movies can come through the walls. That is to say nothing about the infamous public, as even faint whispers can be distracting when there’s so little noise coming through the theater speakers. If someone wants to get the full experience of the film, they might want to wait until they can watch it at home through headphones. 
 
“A Quiet Place” is a unique experience and is deserving of the hour and a half to watch, but needs its audience to come to it on its terms. Potential watchers might want to wait until they can give the movie their full attention, so that they can see and hear everything the film does. 

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