We’re on day 79 of what we assume is some kind of apocalyptic event. A general store is deserted, without power, and in a complete mess. A man and his wife (John Krasinski and off screen wife Emily Blunt), along with their 3 children, are quietly scavenging for drugs for one of the children who is sick, along with some general supplies. They move quietly, carefully moving objects so as to not make a sound. They communicate only by sign language, and the youngest of the children is refused a battery operated rocket toy, because it will make a noise. The family quietly walk back home, and you begin to wonder what exactly could be so dangerous that it has wiped out most of humanity and left this family terrified, desperately trying to remain silent. We soon find out though, in one quick, and shocking moment.
We then skip forward a few hundred days, joining the family once more in their home in the forest. We discover that the creatures responsible for the apocalypse are blind, with armoured skin and a superb sense of hearing, which attracts them to their prey and also explains why everyone is now being so quiet. The family walk about barefoot, still communicating in sign language and taking care not to make a sound with everything they do. It’s very quiet, and very tense, which consequently amplifies every sneeze and every noisy rustle in the cinema I’m sitting in. Some of these idiots wouldn’t last 5 minutes if they were in this movie!!
And then we discover that Emily Blunts character is pregnant! We see the family preparing a sound proof cot, in an underground room where the other children are also trying to make the walls soundproof. How on earth are they going to keep a baby from being heard?
Occasionally the creatures make an appearance. All teeth and claws, and genuinely scary as the family try and contain their terror to avoid making a sound. The first half of the movie follows this formula – prolonged periods of silent tension, followed by the odd burst of terror. It’s extremely effective. So when the final third of the movie shifts towards more lengthy moments of monster action, with the separated family all having their own problems to overcome, it’s hugely enjoyable edge of seat stuff. This really is a refreshingly smart horror movie.