Two parents (John Krasinski and Emily Blunt) lead their children (Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe) to a remote farm to hide from an alien threat that hunts by sound.
Although rules-based horrors like It Follows, Don't Breathe and Lights Out are currently in fashion and A Quiet Place may share some common sentiment with them, the truth is that the film falls more in line with the likes of Steven Spielberg's Jaws in that close adherence to the premise isn't what drives everything - it's the characters and the fact that the audience is brought in and care about them. Again, the setup for A Quiet Place is done in a simple, straightforward fashion. There's no drawn out exposition, no sit-you-down-and-explain-it-all scene, just a few glimpses of the world gone awry by a nameless threat that hunts by sound and the understanding that in order to survive, silence is golden.
John Krasinski pulls triple-duty here as both director, co-writer and star and brilliantly balances all three. The script, though sparse of dialogue, is rich in texture and emotion and the confident direction allows so much to be said with virtually nothing. Moreover, his performance and the unerringly natural chemistry with Emily Blunt, who is his wife both on-and-off screen, is pitched perfectly with the events of the film. There's a pragmatism to it all, that he and Blunt have to keep it together and be strong for their children, that makes their characters all more believable and gives the film a real heart and adds to the stakes. The children themselves give exceptionally layered performances, and again, there's a real sense of authenticity to it all that helps to create more tension when things go wrong.
Because of the set-up - a world without sound, and almost unseen attackers who hunt by it - you're immediately drawn in to examine the screen more. Thankfully, Krasinski and cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen create scenery and visuals that are gorgeous and have a lushness to them that you so rarely see in horror, much less horrors set in a dystopian world where humanity is on the verge of collapse. The use of sound is deployed with laser precision and while it may rely on some jump-scares here and there to get a few frights, the atmosphere and tension is brought into being by the performances of Blunt, Krasinski and the children and how the script develops them. They're not superheroes, they're not crazy scientists, they're just parents trying to survive an incredible ordeal in the way they know how.
Leaving all this aside, A Quiet Place fuses horror sensibilities with a convincing family drama to create something unique and entertaining in equal measure. If there's a complaint to be made against A Quiet Place, it comes in the form of how coincidental certain aspects of the eventual conclusion are, but it doesn't lessen anything that comes before it and certainly doesn't diminish what is likely to be the best of its genre this year.