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A Quiet Place by Marco Beltrami (Review)

posted Apr 19, 2018, 5:09 PM by Kaya Savas

A Quiet Place has a very simple premise and that’s a good thing. It’s about a family living in a dystopian version of Earth that has now been invaded by alien creatures that hunt with sound. So the simple premise is, make a sound and die or be quiet and live. This is a perfect canvas for a composer, and Marco Beltrami was really the perfect choice here. His approach along with Buck Sanders’ textural designs made a score that knew when to hit hard, but also a score that bowed out when it wasn’t needed. 

Striking the balance of when to use score and when not to was probably a challenging exercise, but the movie finds that balance. The score immediately builds dread utilizing brooding brass that descends in a similar fashion to how Jóhann Jóhannsson scored Sicario. The score weighs heavy in these moments and you feel impending doom growing. The other side of this score uses a much lighter approach. The way Beltrami builds this family is with a delicate and intimate nature. Since there is very little dialogue in the film (most of it signed via sign language), the relationships are built with facial expressions. So really, Marco ended up having to score facial expressions more than anything here to capture the human side of this story.

Overall though, the film is treated very much like a western, and the music feels of an older time in some areas. Marco said in our All Access interview that “every film I score is a western”, and you can feel that here. The score captures the world and not just the horror or tension. John Krasinski also said they went back and looked at movies like Terrence Malick’s Days Of Heaven and The Thin Red Line, and they shot on film instead of digital to really play with light and dark. Everything from the music to the visuals has lots of rich details.

A Quiet Place is a score that finds balance while still being able to operate at high intensity as well as quiet intimacy. While the film itself is very simple in its approach and has a surface level feel with not much depth, there are still moments where the score can explore some emotions outside of fear. The film is ultimately about family and how this particular family strives to live in this world. Marco Beltrami’s score manages terror, tension and delicate emotions all in a very fluid approach. Plus, the score knows when to back off completely and let sound design carry certain scenes. All in all, Beltrami’s score adds a lot of what makes A Quiet Place work so well.