DEFINITE A QUIET PLACE SPOILERS AHEAD
A Quiet Place left me simultaneously shaking with fear and unable, or rather unwilling, to speak too loudly. When my roommates and I came home from the theater, I made the mistake of banging the front door open and terrified myself.
I don’t know if I can even singularly place this film in the horror genre as it also involves science fiction and action-adventure tropes. However, I can confirm that I was holding my breath in anticipation throughout. Mostly because of the manipulation of the single sense that differentiated this film from others: sound.
Sound is incredibly effective as a plot-driving and tone-maintaining device. However, A Quiet Place changes the way that sound is used in horror films as it is not used purely jump scares or movie score indicating that tension is building, but it eliminates sound entirely. More than anything, the film didn’t give us the break that horror films provide.
Typically, the daylight — the morning sun and warmth — comforts viewers of horror films after a long night of losing shadows and light-lacking corners and closets. A Quiet Place doesn’t provide this reprieve as most of the action occurs during the daytime, in broad daylight. This is because the fear-factor comes from making sound. The brightest light could not scare the alien creatures that have come to demolish humankind, and fear isn’t necessarily found during the dead of night.
When the creatures hunt, they rely on a certain caliber of sound to find and locate their prey. This can be seen with the youngest child in the family being killed, the old man screaming to attract the monsters to put him out of his misery, and how the father saves his children by screaming. The horror we feel is not when the darkness takes over for the night, but when the silence drags out for long enough that you both need and fear sound.
My roommate and I found ourselves making predictions about the film from the trailers themselves. We got very little right plot-wise as the trailers were the ideal kind of trailers — they increased interest with key scenes but revealed very little about the actual narrative. However, what we did anticipate, and what I believe was delivered, was the perfect use, or lack thereof, of sound.