The film opens with a placard declaring this is day 89 – of what we aren’t sure.
Cut to bare feet quietly scattering through an abandoned pharmacy, hands on looted shelves slowly turning pill bottles, looking for the right ones – you assume they’re looking for drugs (the fun kind) until you see a sick boy about 8-years-old on the ground.
Mom (Emily Blunt) finds the right pills and silently pockets them. At the same time a younger brother (about 4) is hunting through the shelves for a leftover toy when he accidentally knocks a plastic rocket off the shelf – no big deal right? Accidents happen.
Except older sister (12) throws herself across the ground to catch it seconds before it smashes to the ground – the entire family freezes and waits – for what, we still don’t know.
The family packs up and starts to walk back. As they leave, Dad (John Krasinski) notices the rocket the boy is taking has batteries in it – he removes them and has a very stern but completely silent conversation with the young boy about how it’s not safe to have a toy that makes noise.
The little boy is crushed, as dad leaves, big sister lets him have the rocket without the batteries as a consolation prize. As the little boy leaves the pharmacy he secretly scoops the batteries. We see the family walking through the streets in bare feet, with dad leading the pack carrying the sick child.
They are crossing a bridge when they hear an unmistakable sound – the engine of a plastic rocket. In a moment the world slows into a sort of hyper reality – dad drops the sick child and runs as fast as humanly possible towards the young boy still clutching the rocket – in the distance we can hear something or someone else running towards the boy as well. When it arrives we learn what the family has been living with.
When the movie starts again the placard reads day 479. At the family farmhouse we see clues – newspaper headlines about monsters exclaiming, “It’s sound! They can hear you!”
Within the first ten minutes you remember everything you do, from walking, to writing, to scratching your arm makes a sound and you realize what an impossible task this family is up against.
A Quiet Place is told in almost complete silence (they use sign language to communicate). There are only two conversations throughout the 95 minutes and, truthfully, the film is so skilled at telling an incredibly frightening and moving story without words it’s weakest when they’re finally allowed to speak.
Krasinski proves himself to be a very strong filmmaker with a fondness for letting the audience discover things on their own. As a result, the less you know about what you’re going to see the better. Emily Blunt (Krasinski’s real-life wife) gives an incredible performance as the family matriarch facing an impossible task – her face speaks a thousand words with its every move.
The children, Noah Jupe and Milicent Simmonds, (who is deaf in real life), are remarkable. They convey a range of emotions guilt, terror, love, longing without ever uttering a word – a feat actors three times their age struggle with.
A Quiet Place is, at core, a love letter to the lengths parents will go to protect their children.
Is it petrifying? Absolutely. Did I scream in the theatre? At least a dozen times.
You will sit down in the dark and not breathe for 95 minutes. This is a mesmerizing film, and will leave you thinking about nothing else for days.
Vicky Sparks is a Bright’s Grove native and movie critic for Global TV’s The Morning Show, which airs nationally on Fridays. Her Journal Reviews cover movies playing at Galaxy Cinemas Sarnia