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With 'A Quiet Place,' less is more

Jessica Fuller • May 6, 2018 at 12:00 AM

It may be 181 days until Halloween, but to me it’s always a good time for a scary movie.

I was dubious when I first saw the trailers for “A Quiet Place.” Horror movies are extremely hit or miss for me, I either find them too predictable and boring or I get the feeling they’re trying too hard to be different.

“A Quiet Place’ follows a family of four as they navigate a dystopian world dominated by sound-hunting monsters. The smallest sound can give away a person’s location, even the tap of a game piece on a Monopoly board would be enough to draw the monsters to someone’s location.

The premise of the movie is already pretty limiting — that restricts characters to using sign language and pantomiming for almost all of the movie. That led director John Krasinski — who also stars in the film alongside Emily Blunt — to have to make some creative choices when trying to tell a story through silence.

What stands out to me about the film is that the silence carries the drama. I found myself holding my breath along with the characters they’re being hunted by the mystery monsters and the drop of a pin could herald their immediate deaths.

Too often I feel like horror films are over-explained. Nothing yanks me out of immersion like jaunty exposition scenes crammed in between what’s meant to be moments of tension. At the base of any horror movie, it’s the unknown that’s scary and makes a horror film great. “A Quiet Place” doesn’t waste time explaining where the monsters come from, how they work or why they kill humans. The only question that matters is “How can we stop them?”

What’s ingenious about this movie is how well the simplicity worked for it. How well facial expressions can convey a story rather than conversations, how a camera angle or sound mixing can tell a story just as well as if the characters talked in every scene. It worked for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” with the episode “Hush,” and I’m glad to see the idea put to good use 19 years later.

Email Jessica Fuller at jfuller@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.

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