Creature features never out of fashion and A Quiet Place is another welcome addition to the genre. Just when you think you’ve seen all kinds of horror creatures, director John Krasinski has added a delightful twist. The creatures in the film are blind and navigate by sound. And we aren’t sure of their origins either. We don’t know whether they are extraterrestrial, bio-weapons of some kind who have gone rogue or mutations that took life after some nuclear holocaust. Their origin is neither discussed nor explained in the film and adds to their mystique.
The film opens with a family foraging at an abandoned store. A title card announces Day 89. Lee and Evelyn (Krasinski and his real-life wife, Emily Blunt) and their three children pick up what the family needs the most and the youngest kid’s interest in a battery-operated rocket is immediately shot down by the father. The family doesn’t talk but communicates in sign language and are shown to be afraid of something or someone. The danger becomes immediately clear when the child, who has smuggled out the toy, pushes the on button. The shrill noise attracts a raptor-like creature who kills the child.
Nearly one year later, the family has learnt more or less to live in total silence in order to survive. The woman is pregnant and the couple has taken some really extraordinary measures for the survival of their newborn, including making a soundproof bunker and a closed child’s bed with an oxygen mask for the newborn to breathe in. One of the film’s most riveting moments involves the birth of the said child. One of the creatures is on the prowl and she tries her hardest not to scream while in labour pain.
God is in the details, as they say, and it’s the attention to detail in the film that makes the atmosphere creep in on you. A portion of the floorboards as well as of each step in the house has been sandpapered so that it doesn’t creak when people set foot on the designated portions. The trail leading to the cornfields has been sanded over so nose is blunted when people walk on it. Lights have been put all along and there is even an emergency code — all red lights mean grave danger. It helps that the elder daughter is deaf and the rest of the family has become expert in sign language because of that. The father keeps experimenting with making hearing implants for her and it’s one such experiment that finally gives the family the required breakthrough of how to effectively defeat the monsters.
It’s said that the most of the ‘horror’ in classic horror films is derived from the sound effects and background score. Director John Krasinski has turned that dictum upon its head and has subdued the sound in crucial scenes, making us lean forward in our seats, giddy with excitement, as we wait for the drama to unfold. It isn’t just a horror film per say and teaches us about the heroism of the family as a whole — something the Indian viewers would have no trouble relating to, thanks to Karan Johar and his maxim of ‘It’s all about loving your family’.