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Movie review: 'A Quiet Place' is tense, thrilling and the best kind of scary
John Krasinski plays Lee Abbott in A Quiet Place." - photo by Josh Terry
A QUIET PLACE 3 stars Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds, Cade Woodward; PG-13 (terror and some bloody images); in general release

A Quiet Place is a gem of a horror film. Its high on tension, low on gore and a great option for a night out with friends or anyone else who enjoys a big screen scare.

The plot follows a small family as it tries to survive an apocalyptic invasion of man-eating monsters. The year is 2020, and what we see of the world has been mostly cleared of human beings. We see a wall of missing persons flyers in a small town and a discarded New York Post front page that reveals the invaders hunt by sound.

To survive, the family tries to exist in absolute silence. The father is Lee Abbott, played by John Krasinski, who also directed the film. Krasinskis real-life wife Emily Blunt plays Lees spouse, Evelyn. In a gripping opening scene at an abandoned grocery store, the youngest of their three children snatches an electric toy spaceship, then gets snatched himself by an inhuman apparition that slashes across the screen.

From here A Quiet Place skips ahead a year, as the Abbotts have managed to settle down in a remote farmhouse surrounded by rolling hills and, judging by the nightly beacons, a handful of other survivors. An underground workroom shows the fruit of Lees efforts to solve their predicament various newspaper clippings, a whiteboard, a table full of equipment. Lees convinced that the creatures are blind, but a true weakness is still beyond his grasp.

We watch the Abbotts go about their daily business, barefoot and on alert at all times. The only respite is on regular fishing trips to a nearby river, where the rushing water is loud enough to allow for some quiet conversation and contemplation.

Evelyn is pregnant and due soon, but she and Lee understand that babies arent known for their quiet lifestyles. Combined with the depressed state of Regan (Utah's Millicent Simmonds), who blames herself for the loss of her younger brother, and Marcus (Noah Jupe), who is just young enough to be petrified at the idea of venturing out of his fathers immediate vicinity, its clear that the familys relative peace isnt going to last.

Its hard to think of a lot of recent examples that can match A Quiet Place in terms of tension. Krasinskis movie is so tense, in fact, that it can keep a whole movie theater silent in anticipation for long stretches, and these days, thats no small thing. The constant state of tension makes the periodic jump scares feel effective instead of cheap, and the decision to steer away from the usual blood and guts makes the film much more accessible without compromising frights at all.

Krasinski also does a fantastic job of bringing multiple story threads together into moments that will accelerate your heart rate and put a smile on your face at the same time. This is a fun, fun movie.

One of the things that makes the movie so effective is the decision to base the story around a family. Its easy to imagine the same dont make a sound concept built around a typical teen slasher movie. But rather than just let the bad guy work through the cast one by one, Krasinskis family scenario raises the stakes considerably: Everyone is crucial. No one is expendable. The early loss of their youngest was catastrophic, not just a checkmark on a list.

If you have to make any complaints, you could argue that the third act isnt quite as satisfying as the rest of the film. But even if A Quiet Place isnt tied into a perfect knot at the end, it does finish with a smile. Krasinskis film is a tense ride from start to finish, and whether you watch it with a date, with some friends or on your own, its a ride you wont forget anytime soon.

A Quiet Place is rated PG-13 for terror and some bloody images; running time: 90 minutes.
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