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In a world filled with way too much noise, auditory and otherwise, nowadays it says more to not say anything at all. The movie business started with silent films, and in recent years more movies have been getting a silent treatment all their own.

Breath, interrupted

2016 gave us Don’t Breathe, a gasp-inducing horror-thriller that follows an entourage of petty thieves as they break into the house of a blind man to steal his hefty post-tragedy settlement.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing that the marketing team gave away the premise of the film by naming it as such – we movie goers appreciated the heads up, and the concept pretty much sold itself.

…bits that are void of speech and punctuated by heavy breathing and the suppression of screams heighten the tension considerably.

Though the entire film isn’t silent, the bits that are void of speech and punctuated by heavy breathing and the suppression of screams heighten the tension considerably.

Don’t Breathe is an entertaining and anxiety-inducing affair (with quite the disturbing finale…I won’t ruin it for you, but go watch it, will you?) that effectively harps on the horrifying nature of humankind, but it doesn’t quite deliver emotionally when compared to A Quiet Place.

Something special

If Don’t Breathe is a movie that capitalized on the trope of silence, then 2018’s A Quiet Place is a piece of art that effortlessly weaves the concept into its much too short run time.

Right off the bat, the film is a huge win in my eyes not only because it features ASL (American Sign Language) in an important role, but also because it features a deaf actress in a starring role! As someone who knows enough ASL to be dangerous, it makes me so proud to see more representation of the language and the Deaf community in the media (oh, and of course it’s also an automatic 10/10 from me since Jim…I mean, John Krasinski is in it).

…the film is a huge win in my eyes not only because it features ASL (American Sign Language) in an important role…

It doesn’t take long to realize that it’s a poignant and raw take on the “silent” film. A Quiet Place (ooh, another giveaway title…more foreboding and less bossy than the former) is much more deliberate in creating a relationship with the concept of silence.

Silence is sacred because it protects those in this specific cinematic universe from imminent danger, which makes the few instances of sound infinitely more jarring.

A Quiet Place is much more deliberate in creating a relationship with the concept of silence.

Even more so, the film is deliberate in defining the relationships between the characters. Unlike Don’t Breathe, which you could argue is purposeful in its lack of character likability, we’re encouraged to become emotionally attached to Krasinski’s character and his family.

…which makes the events that unfold so much harder to witness. (RIP)

It’s impossible to forget that you’re watching a horror movie, especially if you’ve seen the trailer, but it’s certainly easy to be scared far before the reveal of the source of the terror.

In their own right

Though I believe A Quiet Place is superior simply because it’s so damn good at making us care about people that don’t even exist, both films are outstanding in their own right.

Both films were successful at the box office and garnered critical attention, so it seems there is merit in the return of silence in the cinema.

I think of Don’t Breathe as a hard and fast punch to the windpipe, whereas A Quiet Place is a slow burn that creeps up on you and then ignites at the last possible second.

It really just depends…which one are you in the mood for?

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