This time, we review the family survival drama film A Quiet Place and ask how did John Krasinski go from office prankster to survivalist farmer, is this a film with social commentary, and why have a baby during the apocalypse? Let’s dive in…
A Quiet Place (2018) Cast and Crew
Written, directed and starring John Krasinski as Lee Abbott: Krasinski rose to prominence following his starring role as loveable goofball Jim Halpert on the US version of The Office where he gained a reputation as a comedic actor. Then he slowly began to turn around that perception by appearing in 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi and the Amazon Prime series Jack Ryan.
A Quiet Place also helped him separate him from his Jim Halper role even further. His appearance in A Quiet Place not only cemented a new perception of Krasinski as an actor, but also as a director as this was only the third time he sat in the director’s chair and his first time as a director for a major studio. He also shares screenwriting credits with fellow writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck.
Emily Blunt as Evelyn Abbott: In real life, Blunt and Krasinski are married, but had not starred together in a film before A Quiet Place. When Krasinski signed on to direct, Blunt was initially hesitant to appear in the film until she read his script and asked him to be cast in the role of Evelyn. For a more in-depth review of Blunt’s early career, check out our past episode on Live. Die. Repeat: The Edge of Tomorrow.
Millicent Simmonds as Regan Abbott: Simmonds is deaf in real life and even coached her fellow actors in the use of American Sign Language (ASL). Her casting was intentional as Krasinski wanted a young deaf actress to play his daughter in the film. She also suggested two of the more poignant moments in the film when Regan stops her father from putting in a new hearing implant and at the end of the film when Lee signs to his daughter “I have always loved you.”
Noah Jupe as Marcus Abbott: In spite of his young age, Jupe has already appeared in several big-time productions like The Night Manager, Suburbicon and more recently Ford v Ferrari and along with his young co-star, they are able to contribute to the film in ways that many actors their age wouldn’t be able to do.
After watching the film and reading interviews of John Krasinski, it is easy to interpret the film’s theme as that of parenthood. Not only parenthood, but also how to prepare one’s children for the future in addition to how to deal with guilt following a family tragedy. However, since we live in a society that refuses to accept a simple explanation, critics have been analyzing this film for any sort of deeper political or social commentary.
Krasinski did mention that he watched horror films with a social commentary like Jaws and Get Out for inspiration, but did not intentionally make this film with an eye on direct commentary. New Yorker writer Richard Brody called the film “the antithesis of Get Out” with a conservative and pro-gun message. It’s difficult to determine how Brody came to this conclusion, but he seems to fixate on the inclusion of guns in the film. Krasinski has directly rebuked this critique in subsequent interviews saying that while he can understand how someone could come to that conclusion, really his sole intention with the film was to make the theme about parenthood.
In contrast to Brody’s review, Roman Catholic Bishop Robert Barron noted heavy religious themes with a pro-life message in the film citing the family’s agrarian life and Evelyn’s decision to have her baby in spite of the apocalyptic circumstances. Krasinski isn’t going to respond to every critique and any self-respecting director will defend their work in spite of the criticism. Even though the film has only been out for a couple of years at the time of this writing, there have been wildly different themes and interpretations other than what is onscreen.
Within the theme of parenthood, we see Evelyn and Lee try to move forward after their youngest child is brutally killed by one of the invading creatures in the opening few minutes of the film. At some point, every member of the family questions their role in the child’s death and asks if there was anything more they could have done to save him.
It’s here we get some of the best moments of the film where Marcus reminds his father that he needs to talk with his daughter and remind her that her brother’s death was not her fault. We also see Regan deal with her own guilt as she was the one who let Beau have the toy with the batteries, ultimately attracting the creature that kills Beau.
Finally, we see a tender moment between Lee and Evelyn after their child is born when she asks him to protect their children no matter what.
With a film titled A Quiet Place, it’s obvious from the beginning that sound is going to be the most important element. In the first scene where we meet the Abbott family and witness the tragedy of young Beau being killed, we do not hear that many sounds. There’s the pitter patter of tiny feet and an object slipping from a shelf, but we don’t hear a true loud sound until Beau turns on the toy and it attracts the creature.
As an audience we see that sound is something to be feared during this experience. While the loud sounds are not used often, they are used very effectively. This is especially true when Marcus and Regan are playing until he accidentally breaks a lantern. This would normally be an innocuous sound, but their life shown onscreen is idyllic in spite of the silence that we forget that sound is to be avoided.
In addition to the sound design, composer Marco Beltrami utilized a more traditional horror film score to heighten the tension in various scenes especially during the scene where Evelyn’s water breaks and is forced to hide from the creatures who have infiltrated her home. It’s one of the more tense scenes in any film and belongs in the pantheon of great horror movie scenes.
Beltrami also assisted the sound crew in helping to create a more melodic flow to the film and in many ways, having a traditional score of sorts helps to normalize the film and not make it seem like an experimental film. Sounds are used to heighten the tension and the combination of the film score is incredibly effective during the final scene. In that scene, a creature has cornered Evelyn and her children until Regan utilizes her implant to hurt the creature. This causes it to open its armor and allow for Evelyn to kill it and end the film on a moment of determination as she cocks the shotgun and prepares for a new fight.
A Quiet Place Box Office and Award Nominations
The film was made on a relatively small budget of $17 million (there have also been estimates of $20 million) and the film was a major success at the box office with a worldwide gross of almost $341 million and was a success among the critics with a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
It received several nominations at the Saturn Awards as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Editing, but would lose this to Bohemian Rhapsody. With the film’s major success at the box office and among critics, a sequel was immediately green lit and was originally set to premiere in March 2020, but was delayed to September 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. John Krasinski will return to direct the film as well as the original cast along with Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou joining the principal cast.
A Quiet Place Review and Rating
For A Quiet Place, our hosts were in agreement as both Sean and Chris rated the film as WOULD HOST A VIEWING PARTY citing the fantastic performances of the cast, the sound design, and genre bending as the elements to enjoy.
What did you think of A Quiet Place? Did you enjoy the sound design? Would you be capable of surviving in this world? Listen to the full episode to find out our choices for Lens Flare as well as the return of our Yellow Shirts. Please listen, rate and subscribe to Force Fed Sci-Fi in your podcast player of choice, leave us a 5 star review and tune in next time when we review the 1995 film Waterworld starring Kevin Costner!