John Krasinski has said multiple times that he didn't sign on to make a horror movie, but rather a drama that focuses on what it means to be a family and to protect one's family. He accomplishes this goal with flying colors and also, whether he meant to or not, made a movie that kept me either on the edge of my seat biting my nails, or leaning as far back into my chair as I could go, peaking at the screen through my fingers.
I am so grateful for Emily Blunt telling her husband he had to cast her in the role of his wife - not only is their chemistry crazy strong (obviously), but she brings such a presence, elevating the emotion and intensity of every scene she's in. Krasinski brings some seriously heartfelt depth to the protective father role he's playing. His interactions with his on-screen daughter, played wonderfully by Millicent Simmonds, displays unconditional love in a powerful, complicated, and beautiful way I'm not sure I've ever seen in a movie before. The absence of dialogue in most of the film presented a challenge which the actors respond to with some very impressive and expressive acting chops!
Beyond the immediate take on the bond of family and how far we go to protect our loved ones, human morality is shown in other strong but subtle ways. One scene that demonstrated this was when we saw the signal fires they use to communicate their continued survival to other families. I felt like this brief scene showed communication that is less about keeping track of their local population, and more about human connection.
Despite the fact that the score re-listen I did before writing this review caused hairs on the back of my neck to raise up, I've already forgotten what it sounded like. I've read several reports saying budget, timing, and resources were limited for the composer of this movie, so I'll forgive put the blame for its forgettability on those constraints. The movie's use of silence is amazing, but I consider that less a feat of sound mixing, and more a feat of storytelling.
It's not a horror movie or even a monster movie, it's a story about family and survival. The fact there are so few lines of spoken dialogue in the film, yet we can feel so much for the characters' physical and emotional well-being, is a testament to how incredibly well the story of the characters and their situation is told. This movie isn't just unique and suspenseful, it's truly compelling and even riveting.
While the CGI and overall look of the monsters was just decent, I still give the visuals 5 kernels because the lack of dialogue in the film, made the set design, angles, and other camera direction significantly more important, and they nail it in virtually every way!
There's a famous interview with Alfred Hitchcock, in which he talks about the difference between the use of "surprise" vs "suspense" in filmmaking. Considering this distinction, I'd say most monster movies today rely too heavily on jump scares & shock to create "surprise," with the few minutes leading up to those surprises, serving as the suspense int he film. A Quiet Place stands out so much because Krasinski weaves the story in such a way that you're in suspense for pretty much the whole film (***that freaking nail!!***), waiting eagerly, not for the surprise twist, but for the next part of the compelling story! The only reason didn't give it 5 kernels is because there's something intangibly corny about the final 60 or so seconds of the film.