Summer of Horror: A Quiet Place A quiet movie. Really quiet.

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.

3 comments

  1. OK – I haven’t subjected myself to whatever criticism is floating around the internet on this but here is my issue: the world, and it’s rules, that they created was impossible to survive in without dying. The aliens (Dark Angels) were so powerful that it was beyond any logic leap I could make that they could have survived. I am supposed to believe they were able to wire that entire compound silently? And they were very loose with when a minor sound led to instant death from a creature miles away and when it didn’t. I agree the movie was suspenseful but I found myself constantly taken out of their narrative thinking about logic flaws – stuff like how could they possibly take a shit or fart without being killed? Also (SPOILER), I found it completely inconceivable that no one tried a supersonic weapon against the aliens with extremely sensitive hearing, until the deaf girl stumbled on it at the end. Anyway, I was a bit dissapointed.

    1. It’s not that these logic issues you bring up aren’t valid; I just didn’t find that they affected my enjoyment of the movie. At one point Becky turned to me and said “what happens if they have to sneeze, or fart?” I suppose you could argue that the creatures are always roaming around and not always near enough by to hear those minor sounds, or maybe they’re not always in “hunting” mode (the movie shows that they can open up their heads to focus on tiny noises). The movie could have used extra minutes to address these things for people, but I personally didn’t think it needed it, since the focus was on the characters and how their fight for survival impacted them.

    2. Also, the opening scene of the movie takes place about three months after the creatures emerged, and already we see that most of humanity is wiped out. So yes, it’s NEARLY impossible to survive in that environment, but a few people do simply by being insanely careful and probably very lucky.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *