As I settled into the theater for a screening of “A Quiet Place,” my anticipation was at a peak. Not only am I a horror film junkie but, like so many residents of Pawling, I had been following the film’s progress since it began this past summer right here in Dutchess County. Would the film live up to the expectations of the local community who had contributed so much to the production? Could the results justify months of traffic detours on West Dover Road? When the end credits rolled, one thing was certain: The monsters had come to Pawling, and they did not disappoint.
“A Quiet Place” begins by dropping the audience into the not too distant future, where the world is a very different place. There are shots of an abandoned town (filmed nearby in Beacon) and a newspaper blowing in the wind shouts warnings of a yet unseen threat. A family scavenges a pharmacy for supplies, barefoot and communicating silently with sign language. The film wastes little time in establishing a situation where silence is necessary to survive, and even the slightest noise can have deadly consequences.
The world in “A Quiet Place” is populated by monsters that lurk in the shadows, responding to any sound with terrifying and violent ferocity. Society has seemingly collapsed, as humanity was unable to contend with these new predators. The film follows the Abbott family as they try to survive and maintain some semblance of normalcy amidst these creepy circumstances. Lee (John Krasinski, who also directs) and wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) navigate the horrible new world, trying to educate and protect their young children, Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe). The family lives on an isolated farm, opting to inhabit the barn since the house’s squeaky floorboards will draw the attention of the creatures. Regan is deaf, and her father struggles to construct an electronic ear for her with scavenged parts. Further complicating matters is the fact that Evelyn is eight months pregnant, and the family prepares for the baby’s arrival in a world where silence is required for survival.
Pawling was an ideal location for filming, and Krasinski makes excellent use of the natural beauty of the area. Wide shots of the farm on West Dover Road serve to demonstrate the Abbott family’s isolation. From the top of a silo on the property, the film shows many wide shots of the picturesque Harlem Valley. Signal fires reveal the presence of other survivors in the distance, but the Abbotts are entirely on their own.
The true suspense of “A Quiet Place” comes from the film’s atmospheric sense of dread. There is minimal dialogue and little music, with Krasinski’s direction letting the sounds of the film tell the story. As a result, the slightest noise becomes instant cause for concern. Mundane activities such as washing clothes, the family dinner, and even a game of Monopoly can turn into dire situations at any moment. The tension ratchets up as the film progresses, but always plays out with the same eerie silence.
I thoroughly enjoyed “A Quiet Place,” as both a lover of horror movies and a champion of all things Pawling. I was determined to be objective in this review, but couldn’t help feeling a twinge of excitement when the first shots of the farm on West Dover Road popped up on screen. Knowing how much effort the local community gave to the filming only added to the enjoyment of how excellent the finished product truly was. “A Quiet Place” is smart, scary, and something everyone in town can be proud of.