Have you seen A Quiet Place, dear reader? A lot of people did, when it released earlier this year to great acclaim. If you have not, I recommend you do so promptly; you can rent it on demand or at Redbox or whatever. If you have, did you become annoyed at the central characters’ actions, or lack of actions, in strategically coping with the threat at hand? I know those people are out there, voicing their misgivings all over social media. Those people are missing the point entirely.
A Quiet Place is another one of those brilliant horror concepts that proves the genre has plenty of life left in it (and, again, we’re currently in a golden age). Ferocious monsters of unknown origin have eliminated much of humanity, and brought civilization to its knees. Those remaining alive do so by keeping utterly silent, as the creatures have no eyes but ridiculously sensitive hearing. This presents quite a few difficult circumstances for a family of four with a baby on the way, as you can no doubt imagine.
Director and star John Krasinski shows remarkable restraint and class in delivering on this premise. I’d say roughly 90% of the film is played in complete or near silence. There isn’t even much of a musical score to mask it. The effect on the viewer is funny – you become oddly self-conscious about the noise level you’re creating in real life. Theatrical showings must have been fraught.
The impending birth of a newborn in this perilous landscape plays like a ticking time bomb. Add to that a deaf preteen daughter unaware of the noises she herself makes, and a few early glimpses of the sheer brutality of the creatures, and you have a recipe for instant tension. It’s natural to put yourself in those shoes and try to formulate your own survival strategy: A soundproof safe room anyone? Hunkering down near a rushing river for audio camouflage? This is where the above-referenced nitpicking came in, but I thought the script did a great job of addressing these logical issues. Did it resolve every single one? No, but it’s not the movie’s prerogative to outsmart the audience. That isn’t the point.
A Quiet Place is about the burden of parents to protect their children in an increasingly dangerous world. I think this movie works for non-parents, but those with young children will probably find a lot to identify with. The real world may not have alien killing machines trying to eat us, but it’s filled with thousands of other dangers that threaten the young in particular. Keeping them safe is item #1 on the parental job description, and yet, it’s impossible to achieve 100% success in that field. That’s the point of this movie, and it communicates that very, very effectively. But all that aside, it’s just a banger of a horror flick.