It's a post-apocalyptic world. Townships are deserted. Stuff is left on shop shelves for foraging survivors. Survivors like the Abbott family. Husband and wife Lee and Evelyn (real life couple John Krasinski and his wife Emily Blunt), their daughter, Regan and sons, Marcus and Beau.
Their world is a quiet place because sound means slaughter. Nasty crab-legged, Alien-headed creatures stalk the earth in search of prey. Their favourite food is human. They see nothing, but hear everything.
Anything for a quiet life. The alternative is death. But the Abbots have an advantage. Regan is deaf. (played by real life deaf actress, Millicent Simmonds). Hence, the family is used to communicating in sign language.
But it's difficult for the youngest child, Beau to fully understand the need for silence. When the family heads into town, foraging for meds, the little lad takes a toy rocket from the shelf of an abandoned store. A noisy toy rocket. Dad removes the batteries before the family returns to their farmstead home. Unnoticed, Beau reinserts them and switches the thing on, with fatal consequences.
If trying to keep an inquisitive toddler safe is tricky, imagine what it might be like when mom gives birth. In a bath. With 'all ears' monsters prowling the house, alert to the tiniest sound. Hubby's off fishing, so no hand to squeeze. The slightest whimper could prove deadly. And then there's the challenge of keeping the newborn quiet. Talk about ratcheting up the tension.
Lee returns to find mother and baby safe and sound. Evelyn asks, "Who are we, if we can't protect our children?" It's the question all parents of younger children ask themselves, alert of the dangers of the world. In that sense the film is a parable on the perils of parenting, real and imagined. Evelyn makes her husband promise to guard their brood at all costs. He does. It will cost him.
Lee is no feckless, responsibility-shy modern man. Resourceful, strong and tender, he takes on the traditional male roles of provider and protector. Must have been reading Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. Mum isn't to be messed with, either.
Along the way the film explores the themes of guilt, forgiveness, love and sacrifice. Before meals the family hold hands and bow their heads. Seemingly in silent prayer. "Deliver us from evil"? See here for a helpful TGC review.
It's scary. The enforced silence of the Abbott household and sparing use of sountrack music mean that the slightest noise is likely to make you jump. No popcorn crunching or drink slurping in this film, please. Breathing should be kept to a minimum.
Will wholesome family values and the power of prayer prove a sufficient antidote to the chaos of a ruined, monster-infested world? Go and see for yourself. Just don't make a sound.