Published on July 10th, 2018 | by Lauren Allen0
A Quiet Place
A Quiet Place is one of the best thrillers of the year, using family drama to create stakes that take the horror to great heights.
As we sat down in the theatre to enjoy a horror movie together, a very rare occurrence, my boyfriend turns to me and says “I’ll know if it’s good if I can forget that it’s Jim from The Office”.
I laughed, and then didn’t think about Jim, The Office, or laughter for a good long while after I watched A Quiet Place.
The obvious unique factor of this horror movie is the sound: very little spoken words are employed in this movie. But that doesn’t mean the movie is silent. The sound design is brilliant, subtle, and always very intentional. Sound in this movie is extremely important for two reasons: one of the main characters is deaf, and the monsters of the film, who want to wipe out the humans, can detect noises, even slight ones, at great distances.
We know from the get-go that something is wrong, but all our questions are not necessarily answered. We get a lot of information from reading newspapers blowing by in the wind against the backdrop of a deserted town, and watching our heroes interact. They are a family of five, two parents, a pre-teen/young teenage daughter, and two younger boys. The family speaks sign language with one another, which appears to be a necessity in this new world where people cannot make noise lest they be discovered by the monsters.
The entire movie is the story of the family’s struggle to survive, but it has some interesting factors that set it apart from other horror movies. First, we are aware early on that there are quite a few clusters of survivors, but for whatever reason, they don’t connect with each other much. They remain in their own space but remind others of their presence by lighting a nightly fire. The symbolic gesture that asks, “who is here?” is surprisingly impactful.
What really made this movie stand out to me is that I find it believable within its ridiculous circumstances. I believe that this young family would survive longer than the average people, because it is clear that they have advantages from early on. They appear to have always lived in the countryside, and of course any beast that is attracted to noise is first going to head for more densely populated areas. They also already speak sign language as their daughter is shown to have a cochlear implant, letting us know that she is at least hard of hearing, if not completely deaf (though through the course of the movie, as her implant does not work, we learn that she is deaf). They live close to resources. A river teeming with fish, plus they have a large farm area with crops as well. It is believable that people could survive here. They just have to be very quiet while doing it.
The solutions that they have found in order to make as little noise as possible are actually ingenious — painting spots on the floor that don’t creak so you know where to step, using lights to communicate when there’s a problem, removing doors that can creak or slam, spreading sand on the ground to muffle footsteps, and replacing game board playing pieces with little cotton balls are details that really complete this world for the viewer. We know that they have survived for nearly 500 days — meaning a year and five(ish) months.
The complications come at this time, and the reason we are watching this part of the movie and not the initial invasion of whatever the alien monsters are, is because the mother (Emily Blunt) is pregnant. We watch her take her own blood pressure, make extensive preparations for the baby’s arrival, and generally be a super badass. Women are powerful under any circumstance, but trying to bring forth new life in what appears to be the apocalypse raises her to level of actual goddess.
Her husband (John Krasinski, also Blunt’s husband in real life and director and co-writer of the movie) is actively working on a solution. He is reaching out to all the known communication radio signals to see who else might be out there, as well as trying to identify the weakness of the beasts. These parents are trying to make sure they protect their children, and it makes the story more believable than if they were all just running around in a panic. I don’t think there’s a parent out there who doesn’t try to fix what they think is broken in order for their children to be safe.
The children generally don’t have much to do but help their parents with maintaining the house and area, very, very quietly. The older children give believable performances and should be commended for their work. Being in an apocalypse also doesn’t mean that family drama stops and everyone is always happy. The relationship between father and daughter is particularly explored in this film and brings a depth that makes the movie more compelling than other horror movies.
As one can expect, the movie employs several jump scares. They don’t get tiring though, because they are all merited. It is also surprisingly emotional, and you will definitely want to bring someone along to hold your hand. The movie also lets you know, right off the bat, that it is NOT messing around. The consequences are dire, and anything can happen. It’s sort of like the movie Up. The first sequence is the most emotional, and you are simply unprepared for it.
Overall, I personally think Krasinski and Blunt deserve kudos for their work on this film. As a director, Krasinski evidently has clear visions that he executes well, and Blunt’s portrayal of a woman in labour, alone, trying to be silent, is heart wrenching to say the least.
I would recommend watching the movie in a theatre. That way you can leave when it ends and not feel freaked out in your own home. Again, bring someone to hold your hand — you are going to need it.