The artfully scary A Quiet Place is one of the more pleasant cinematic surprises of 2018: Chock full of leap-from-your-seat scares and three-dimensional characters, it's a welcome departure from the mainstream horror formula. This is a patient and nuanced look at the dark intersection of family and fear, and it's been a hit with critics and audiences -- no small feat.

John Krasinski and real-life spouse Emily Blunt are terrific in lead roles. Ditto for child actors Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe. But whether we notice it or not, it's Krasinski's work off-screen, as director and co-writer, that makes the film successful. 

Check out this Notes on a Scene from Vanity Fair. See how Krasinski breaks down the under-appreciated elements of filmmaking, including set design, sound design, scene structure, narrative structure, location, casting, light and shadows, pacing as a means of creating tension, and creative problem solving (witness the fabric Monopoly pieces).

Each of these elements originate from clear writing and strong directorial instinct. Krasinski's attention to detail (and the ability to find skilled collaborators to execute their roles exactly) is what connects the dots. It's the alchemy of a cohesive, self-contained universe.

Better still? Production for A Quiet Place -- which is fast approaching $100 million in domestic box office returns alone -- cost a mere $17 million. For context, the latest entry in the Fifty Shades series cost more than three times as much. Which one thrilled YOU more?

It's all further proof that we'd all be better off picking movies based on directors and other behind-the-scenes artists rather than the faces on the poster.

But I wouldn't hold your breath.

FilmDominic TestaComment