A Quiet Place is a PG-13 horror film about a family hiding from creatures who attack based on sound. As the film's tagline states, "If they hear you, they hunt you." It's an intriguing premise, but does it live up to its potential as a 21st-century evolution of horror?
It's fair to say John Krasinski's third film as director is a far cry from his earlier works - the indie drama, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and the family dramedy, The Hollars - with the trailers playing up a terrifying experience and reviews comparing it to the likes of Cloverfield and Get Out. Yet it still has the PG-13 rating - just how scary can A Quiet Place get? Quite a bit, actually.
A Quiet Place Has A Lot of Jump Scares Early On
From the outset, A Quiet Place has something of a problem with its overabundance of jump scares. An early scene, highly publicized in marketing materials, has the family playing a game of Monopoly when the daughter accidentally knocks over a lantern. It's a shockingly loud moment in a film which has been exceptionally quiet for the most part up to this point.
Unfortunately, the scene is followed by a ridiculous amount of subsequent jump scares. Within the span of just a couple of minutes, there are no less than four or so jump scares, all accompanied by obnoxious scare chords. By the end of the sequence, rather than adrenaline-pumping tension, all the audience can feel are their own frayed nerves. Fortunately, this problem quickly subsides when the film enters its second (and far more exciting) half.
A Quiet Place Is Somewhat Violent
As a PG-13 film, A Quiet Place is limited in its imagery, and it's clear that some particularly violent moments were somewhat shortened. At one point, two characters come across the body of a woman who had been slain by the creatures. The camera shows her dead body, torn apart and brutally ripped open, but cuts away noticeably quickly.
Despite small moments like this, A Quiet Place doesn't feel compromised by its family-friendly rating. In terms of its violence, A Quiet Place is reminiscent of its obvious influences, Jaws and Jurassic Park, both films directed by Steven Spielberg. Like those films, A Quiet Place knows exactly how far it can go without ruffling the MPAA's over-sensitive feathers. Unfortunately, PG-13 in 2018 is more limiting than PG was back in the day; there's nothing quite as violent as, say, Quint's death from Jaws, but there are still some certainly wince-inducing moments of terror and brief splashes of blood here and there.
A Quiet Place Is Intense
What it lacks in gore and foul language, A Quiet Place makes up for in pure fear. When the monsters are stalking humans, who must avoid making a sound lest they get torn apart, the tension is palpable. At its strongest (which is most of the film's second half), A Quiet Place is rife with white-knuckle tension and high-stakes terror which would make Spielberg proud. In the midst of all the excitement, A Quiet Place lays direct homages to Jaws and Jurassic Park, but those heart-pounding moments won't be spoiled here. And, with that in mind, it toes the PG-13 line perfectly - it's as scary as what the audience member brings to it.
When it's firing on all cylinders, A Quiet Place is intimate, claustrophobic, and downright scary. With this film, John Krasinski has proven himself to be a versatile director, capable of accomplishing anything to which he sets his mind - even PG-13 horror. Whatever comes next for Krasinski, he has the attention of a wide audience.
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