SXSW Review: ‘A Quiet Place’ Proves that PG-13 Can Be Terrifying

Left to right: John Krasinski plays Lee Abbott and Noah Jupe plays Marcus Abbott in A QUIET PLACE, from Paramount Pictures.

A Quiet Place had its world premiere at the 2018 SXSW Conference and Festivals.

There are two common complaints from horror fans these days. The first is that there isn’t enough original content being made, especially in Hollywood, and the second is that PG-13 horror is ruining the genre by watering down the terror and focusing more on the masses. While there are examples showing why both statements can be right at times, A Quiet Place proves that it isn’t always the case.

A Quiet Place was directed by John Krasinski, who also stars in the film as Lee, alongside his real wife, Emily Blunt, as a very pregnant Evelyn. The couple live in a post-apocalyptic world with their children where sound means death. The planet has been ravaged by vicious and quick-moving creatures who are blind and hunt by sound. They are so sensitive to noise that even knocking a glass onto the floor could send hordes someone’s way. As if that isn’t stressful enough to deal with, add in young children who tend to be careless at times without a thought, having to give birth naturally, and bringing a newborn into this environment…things get extra dicey.

Left to right: Noah Jupe plays Marcus Abbott, John Krasinski plays Lee Abbott, Emily Blunt plays Evelyn Abbott and Millicent Simmonds plays Regan Abbott in A QUIET PLACE, from Paramount Pictures. | Photo Credit: Jonny Cournoyer © 2018 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

The characters must speak in a very hushed voice for the majority of the film, with a few exceptions, and rely on sign language. One of the children, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), is deaf so it is assumed this was already the norm before things went to hell. While most filmmakers would have cast an actress who could actually hear for the role, Simmonds is in fact deaf. Krasinski’s decision was a wise one because her interactions were genuine and Simmonds herself is a natural star. Playing Marcus, one of the younger brothers, was 13-year old Noah Jupe. Despite his age, Jupe has quite a bit of on-screen experience already and it showed. Both of these young actors managed to carry the film as much as A-listers Krasinski and Blunt.

The film is very character-driven and has a good balance of family drama and horror. The writers, Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, spoke with me after the film’s world premiere at the 2018 SXSW Conference and Festivals. They discussed the challenges they faced building these characters without a good deal of dialogue or backstory. Beck said in the interview, “It was super challenging in the writing process to try and figure out how to be economical in the storytelling and it always came down to trying to be as simple as possible in terms of figuring out the core problem in this movie, what the core threat is.”

We go into A Quiet Place not knowing what hell this family has seen or dealt with since the beginning of the crisis. This, surprisingly, didn’t hold the story back or create a barrier when it came to creating an emotional attachment to the characters. Krasinski, Beck, and Woods did take a more simplistic approach by showing us newspaper headlines, notes that Lee has made as he tries to figure the creatures out, and through measures the family has taken to stay safe. These visuals were extremely effective and alleviated the need to spoon-feed the audience backstory.

Left to right: Noah Jupe plays Marcus Abbott, Millicent Simmonds plays Regan Abbott and John Krasinski plays Lee Abbott in A QUIET PLACE, from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Jonny Cournoyer © 2018 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

The trailers didn’t give too much away when it came to the creatures, but I was worried we would see some CGI ugliness there. Or, feel less scared when/if we see them full on. However, I was very surprised at how well they not only held up when faced head-on, but how seamlessly they were edited into the scenes. None of the CGI took me out of the film, or lessened the fear and suspense. Quite the opposite, in fact.

A Quiet Place had a lot of hype surrounding it, especially after holding a 100% rating with Rotten Tomatoes after its premiere. Well, the hype is real and the film will hit every note in an almost perfect way. Do not let the rating or Hollywood label deter you from seeing A Quiet Place. The film gives horror fans an opportunity to support original horror done right and show studios the caliber of films we want and expect for big releases. Plus, you would be missing out on a truly terrifying and well made film.

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