Everybody seems to love A Quiet Place. John Krasinski and his IRL wife Emily Blunt’s unsettling horror flick has been scoring fans from critics (96 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) to fellow stars (see: Chris Pratt fanboying out after seeing the movie) since it hit theaters last week. Hell, Ryan Reynolds liked it so much, he’s decided Krasinski and Blunt need to adopt him as their own child (and us too, TBH).
But, as is always the case when something gets so hyped, the pendulum was bound to swing the other way at some point. In this case, it’s via a Hollywood Reporter piece that argues A Quiet Place — which is about a family that has to stay silent to avoid terrifying monsters drawn to sound — doesn’t go far enough in its homage to the classic silent movies its writers say inspired it.
Whereas early silent movies played their lack of dialogue as a strength and an opportunity to perfect visual storytelling, writer Ciara Wardlow thinks A Quiet Place could have done better.
Unlike old school silent movies, A Quiet Place does include whispered dialogue and American Sign Language (14-year-old deaf actress Millicent Simmonds is the movie’s breakout star), which, Wardlow points out, goes against the golden rule of storytelling: show don’t tell.
It’s a valid point, even though the article says there is some total commitment to silence in the movie (i.e. that totally heart-stopping Evelyn labor scene). The thing is, just because Krasinski and his co-writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck said they were inspired by silent movie greats like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton doesn’t necessarily mean they signed on to emulate a silent movie in full detail.
It’s the moviemakers’ fresh, contemporary take on the power of silence, sound, and suspense that’s earning them so much buzz.
So, while we appreciate the “go big or go home” philosophy the argument is built on, and it’s always valuable to examine popular movies and shows through a critical lens, there’s also something to be said for finding and celebrating a creative middle ground.