A Quiet Place Review. SPOILERS.
I know I'm coming at you a day late, but yesterday I made the choice to have an evening out and it was wonderful.
I'm back today though with some thoughts on the new movie "A Quiet Place".
First off, I really liked this movie, and I am so happy to see horror movies do something new and get praise for being great films. That doesn't mean that it's without its flaws, but I was so excited to see this movie, and after leaving the theater, I was still happy to have seen it.
So the film starts on "Day 89". We are led to believe that it is 89 days after some major devastation. The streets are empty, shops have been ransacked, but we aren't told right away what has happened. I like this tactic. My SO however...did not. It can throw people for a loop for sure. Some people like a lead up, like knowing what happened, like to ease into the terror. I love it when we're just thrust into the situation. Anyway.
We meet the family as they are tiptoeing through an abandoned store, looking for prescription drugs. We see that there is a mom, dad, a sister (who we learn is Deaf), and two brothers, one who is very young, and one who is sick. We aren't ever given their names, which is also something I don't mind, but that other people hate.
They grab some medicine, and leave the store, but not before realizing that the youngest child had grabbed a toy. The dad is very concerned about it, tells the young boy that it is too loud to have (in a combination of sign language and very quiet whispering), removes the battery from said toy, and places both items on the counter. The sister though, feeling bad, grabs the toy and gives it back to her little brother. He though, unbeknownst to anyone else, grabs the batteries.
The family walks back home on pathways made out of sand, and get to a bridge. The youngest child puts the batteries in the toy rocket, and sure enough it starts making all sorts of noise. Before anyone can really react, the youngest boy is taken/eaten/killed by what we see as an alien.
Then it shoots us to 400 odd days later. So we've learned that there are aliens, we learned that they are blind, but rely heavily on sound to hunt, and we see how the family has coped. They try to continue to lead normal lives. The mom still teaches their kids, they have meals together, they play board games, do laundry, and even have a new baby on the way.
We see new life, as well as death, and really interesting family dynamics in this film all without the aid of (much) dialogue.
I won't go any further with the plot, because the movie is worth seeing, but here are some of the pros and cons that I had while watching it.
No dialogue. Well, there is dialogue, but I love that this film builds tension and fear without relying too much on it. I loved the subtitled ASL, and equally loved the fact that the daughter who is Deaf is actually played by a Deaf actress.
No backstory. I know this drives people nuts, but we are getting to this interesting part in horror history where it isn't so much about what is happening around us that is scary, but rather how we are responding to that scary thing. It's about feeling the fear with the characters rather than watching them be scared. I think its cool.
Day to day living. This kind of meshes with the previous point, but I liked that the plot wasn't "How do we kill these aliens?" (though of course there is some of that, especially at the end) but its more about "How do we survive?" How does one go about giving birth when you're supposed to be silent? How then do you keep that baby from crying? How do you grieve the death of a loved one if crying is too loud? How do you keep your kids happy and still behaving like kids when the situation you live in forces them to grow up so fast? How do you have meals if even the sound of clinking dishes would give you away? I really loved how the writers thought of all of these elements and put them into the movie. Even the fact that everywhere they had to walk was covered in sand because its a quieter surface to walk on was such an awesome detail.
No sound. Again, there is some sound. But there is no obvious score (that I can remember), no sudden chords to aid in jump scares, no auditory clues that something bad was going to happen because in this world, ALL sounds are clues that something bad is going to happen.
The initial death of the kid. Now, I get why the little boy had to die, from a storytelling POV. It thrusts us into the danger more, it gave us a sense of urgency, and it made us feel something for the family. But. I have a hard time believing that in this world, that the parents would let their youngest child trail behind them as they walk home. I feel like they would lead with an adult, and end with an adult and the children would walk between them. I know that at the time we are only 89 days into the disaster, but they seemed so prepared otherwise.
Deafness. Now, I LOVED that they hired a Deaf actress, that a character was Deaf, and that they used that in the film as a part of the plot, I just didn't think that they used it enough. The unique thing about being Deaf in this world is that you would be both at an advantage, and a disadvantage. An advantage because you're used to not relying on sound or hearing things to live your life. But also a disadvantage because you aren't aware of how loud you're being. I just wish they would have touched on that second part a little more.
I also struggled a little bit with the hearing aid thing. We learn that the feedback from her cochlear implant effects the aliens. But I wish that it was as obvious a revelation for her as it was for us. They kept referring to her as "such a smart girl" and yet this one obvious thing eluded her? I dunno.
Overall I loved the film. I am glad that horror films are starting to be "smarter" and treated as "real movies" or art. And I'm glad to see what the future holds for horror movies.