What do you get when you put together Jim from the Office, ‘Blonde Pam’ in the form of Emily Blunt, and an apocalypse? A stunning film that will take you on an emotional roller coaster. And the caveat? You can’t make a sound.
Writer/Director John Kransinski released the horror film A Quiet Place this year, and critics/fans can’t get enough. The premise is to survive in a world where you can’t use sound forever. One peep…can result in a brutal death by an alien creature. Therefore, it should be no surprise that in a film where creatures hunt by sound, there wouldn’t be much of it used in the movie–regardless, this did stun majority of the audience. Most cinematic experiences rely on heavy dialogue, exposition, and action. Which is why the decisions to tell this incredible story using close to complete silence should not be taken for granted, but instead hailed as a revolutionary tool.
The film begins with the Abbott family ransacking through a deserted and well picked through grocery store. We center in on Emily Blunt’s character named Evelyn, and her oldest son Marcus. Evelyn’s daughter Reagan, who is deaf, appears to check on her daughter and through signing we learn that they are looking for medicine for Marcus. After Evelyn assures that Marcus will be okay Reagan goes to find the youngest brother Beau. Beau who is the loudest of the bunch is drawing a picture of a rocket and signs that it is the only way he and his family will escape from here. Beau climbs to the top of a shelf to gain a toy rocket and Reagan prevents it from clattering to the floor. Meanwhile their father Lee Abbott is scavenging for electronic supplies, and Evelyn signs it is time to get back before it gets dark. Unfortunately, on the trek back – barefoot – Reagan’s actions lands the toy shuttle in Beus’ hands. The young boy sets it off loud in the sky and the race begins! Lee desperately runs against time, and the monster steadily approaching to save Beau while the rest of the family stares in horror. Alas, Lee doesn’t make it in time and young Beau is swept away by the hunter of sound.
Immediately as a viewer you are set in a world in which you have no idea how to escape. Not only does John Krasinki set the stage for what is at stake in the land of A Quiet Place but he also imposes a viewpoint on the audience not normally seen – the strength of signing as a viable and true communication form. Deaf actors, and signing have been gaining popularity in the masses with TV and film. However, in this film signing as well as deaf culture is seen with more depth, validity, and key to life as a whole. For instance, the next time you see Lee he is down in a bunker, plastered with newspaper clippings of the incident, and is steadily working away at Regan’s hearing aid. Regan refuses to try the new hearing aid saying it will never work, and we as an audience is clued into their strained relationship. Regan doesn’t want to interact with her father and argues with him constantly. It is implied that Lee may blame Regan to a certain extent, and Regan already blames herself endlessly. Regardless, that hearing aid that Lee was consistently working on becomes the center weakness of the creatures and the signal is the main way this family will survive.
Through knowing this alone this breaks the barrier that deafness and sign language should be solely viewed as a disability. Yes, Lee wanted Regan to be able to hear for safety, but he didn’t hinder her nor treat her like she wasn’t a true access to the family. In fact the reason he was insistent of his treatment of Regan was because he knew she couldn’t navigate the world around her if she couldn’t hear if she made a sound and know the predator was behind her. Lee, through John Kransinki options is very family oriented and their survival drives every move he and Evelyn makes. If this isn’t evident in the fact that it is revealed that Evelyn is pregnant I don’t know what is.
Yes, Evelyn is pregnant and knowing so begs the question from everyone “wo would bring a child into this world?”. This sentiment as well as the familial and gender roles in this film are a main point of controversy in this film. Evelyn and Regan the only two females aren’t allowed to do a lot in this film, Evelyn acts as her own nurse, the children’s teacher, and caregiver in the story. Regan who wants to hunt along with her father, and also be included in his plans are kept far from her own advancements. Lee handles the hunting, work, and insist on Marcus learning too to be able to carry on the family line. However, once again if you take a deeper look at Lee’s action he wasn’t being partial to the male gender.
Evelyn handles her own health throughout her pregnancy, she builds their unborn child a sound proof crib and balances the tension between her family and her husband. Regan who is inquisitive takes off on her own journey to help herself emotionally concur the death of her younger brother. As stated earlier Lee didn’t want Regan out of their sight due to her not being able to navigate her surroundings successfully. Presumably, Lee would allow her to go on excursions as soon as her hearing aid worked. As far as the burning question of bringing a child into this world goes, that is one the audience and us as current day people can ask ourselves. The point of this is that Evelyn and Lee knew they were pregnant and were doing everything necessary to make sure that their infant child will survive to adult hood. Not to mention the table turns quickly for our female characters showing their strength individually as the film draws to a close.
Evelyn breaks into labor as she is trying to escape a creature in her house after she steps on open face nail. Setting her lights to red to signal everyone she is in labor and danger she makes her way to a bathtub to give birth naturally. Regan arrives back to the family farm and is faced with Lee’s worst nightmare. With her back turned a creature sneaks up who is ready to devour. Regan tampers with her hearing aid and the high frequency is too much for her the creature to stand so he flees. Regan is able to reconvene with her brother who nows has more confidence of his own than the beginning of the film and they too find themselves in a dangerous situation. Marcus falls into a silo of corn and begins to drown, Regan drops in after him to save him and she too gets caught in the sinking weight of the corn. After each sibling gains their footing thanks to the efforts of the other – a creature nearby who hears the exchange drops into the silo and again thanks to her hearing aid the frequency causes the alien to flee.
Lee finds Evelyn and their newborn son okay, and when he leaves after a heart wrenching conversation about whose fault was Marcus death, Evelyn is left by herself. She comes face to face with an alien who submerges into the water and rises again as Evelyn gains her son. She moves into the safety behind the running water above her and the creature is called away when he hears her other two children in the silo. Lee arrives to Regan and Marcus at the silo and the alien attacks him. When Marcus screams the alien heads to the truck where he and Regan reside, and Lee knowing there is no other way, sacrifices himself. He goes out with a death defying scream but not without first signing to Regan “I love you. I have always loved you.” The patriarch of the film is gone leaving Evelyn to being the sole protector of her children. Therefore the critiques of this film being backwards should be laid to rest.
As mentioned before John Kransinski balanced the intensity of horror and the uplifting themes of family and silence through the eyes of a deaf character. He is cautious of how he portrays the women in this movie, and shows equality in the choice that Evelyn makes to be caregiver and the defiance Regan has. In the end the woman take the reigns of their power and survival as Regan realizes the frequency is the aliens weakness, and Evelyn arms herself with a shotgun as a horde of the creatures make their way to their home. Marcus is in the corner with his baby brother.
The ending of this movie not only presents a terrifying experience but a thoughtful one filled with emotion and depth rarely seen in a horror movie. The impact it has on the positive aspect of sign language and deaf culture cannot go unnoticed. Its change in family dynamics is also important and a choice made with forward thinking. The silence in this movie allows a weight and subversive experience that also could be taken for granted but shouldn’t, as its ingenious use created what has to be the top film of 2018 – at least to me anyway.
All this to say I give A Quiet Place a 10/10! So sit back and relax and enjoy this film, but only do it in a quiet place.