Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Buckeye Jones

A Quiet Place

Recommended Posts

A taut little scifi thriller that takes a new twist on an old formula and creates a richer stew than the usual fare. SDG's review (which has a few notes that may best read until after you've seen it) captures a lot of what makes this a fine film:

Quote

There is something, too, about the humdrum ritual of giving thanks for daily bread that weaves together yesterday, today and tomorrow with threads of hope and trust, keeping alive the ordinary and at least momentarily banishing the monsters.

This happens fairly early in the film, and its important, I think, to pay attention to what each character does during that grace as it lays out some character notes that have meaningful payoffs.   This movie really reminded me of Shyalaman's Signs. A family that's dealt with tragic loss in the midst of almost inconceivable circumstances holds out on a farm surrounded by cornfields, while ever tightening problems force them to rally around each other in unexpected (though perhaps in Signs' case, conveniently telegraphed) ways.  Krasinki does great work with the sound design.  His creatures are effective and scary, looking a bit like a mashup of the Stranger Things monsters and a Star Wars beastie meant to eat up our heroes. The casting is excellent, especially the girl who's deaf (Millicent Simmons). 

As SDG mentions, it is especially refreshing to see a functional family onscreen, and here's to hoping we see more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bishop Robert Barron, “The Most Unexpectedly Religious Film of the Year,” April 10, 2018:
“We flash-forward several months later, and we watch the Abbots (can the name have possibly been accidental?) going about their lives in what could only be characterized as a monastic manner: no conversations above a whisper, elaborate sign language, quiet work at books and in the fields, silent but obviously fervent prayer before the evening meal, etc. (I will confess that this last gesture, so thoroughly absent from movies and television today, startled me.) Given the awful demands of the moment, any gadgets, machines, electronic entertainment, or noisy implements are out of the question. Their farming is by hand; their fishing is done with pre-modern equipment; even their walking about is done barefoot. And what is most marvelous to behold is that, in this prayerful, quiet, pre-modern atmosphere, even with the threat of imminent death constantly looming, a generous and mutually self-sacrificing family flourishes. The parents care for and protect their children, and the remaining brother and sister are solicitous toward one another and toward their parents ...

The central drama of 'A Quiet Place' is that Mrs. Abbott is expecting a child. The entire family realizes, of course, that a wailing infant would, given the circumstances, mean almost certain death for all of them. And yet, they decide not to kill the child at his birth but to hide him and mute his cries in various ways. When so many in our culture are willing to murder their children for the flimsiest of reasons, when the law gives full protection even to partial-birth abortion, when people blithely say that they would never bring a baby into such a terrible world, the monastic family in this film welcomes life, even into the worst of worlds, and even when such an act is of supreme danger to them. As the baby is coming into the light, the mother finds herself alone (watch the film for the details) and in the most vulnerable situation, for one of the beasts has made its way into their house. As she labors to give birth, the devouring animal lurks. I was put immediately in mind of the scene in the book of Revelation, where Mary is in the throes of child birth as the dragon patiently waits to consume the child ...”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, for what its worth, there was this older lady reflecting on the film afterwards: "I mean, why the @#%& would you have SEX when you know what's gonna happen!?  Damn, girl!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did think it was interesting that the film *skips over* the beginning of the pregnancy. We have no idea how the sex happened. We have no idea if the child was planned -- perhaps as a "replacement" for the child they lost -- or "accidental". All we know is that they decided to go ahead with having the child.

The only other plot point I had some quibbles with was a nail that sticks out of the wood so prominently that I wondered what had happened (silently) to make it stick out like that, and why no one had noticed, and why no one deals with it once they *do* notice it.

Overall, though, I loved the film. Some of the scariest moments have little to do with the monsters and everything to do with other stuff, like the corn silo... I love how the film *implies* that one of the characters is deaf before making it really obvious, by having a different kind of silence play over the soundtrack during shots that reflect her point of view. (When a film cuts back and forth between two points of view, you normally hear the same background noise throughout the scene, but in the first scene of *this* film -- when a brother and sister are communicating through sign language -- I found it quite noticeable how the sound changed with each cut, and I assumed it wasn't just a continuity or sound-editing error.) I also shed a tear during a scene near the end that made me want to go home and hug my daughter (which I did). And I agree with Bishop Barron that the scene of the family praying over their meal kind of startled me -- not because anything startling happens during the prayer, but just because the prayer was *there*!

Not everyone is impressed, though:

- - -

The Silently Regressive Politics of A Quiet Place
The success of “A Quiet Place,” the new horror thriller directed by John Krasinski, is a sign of viewers craving emptiness, of a yearning for some cinematic white noise to drown out troubling thoughts and observations with a potently simple and high-impact countermyth. The noise of “A Quiet Place” is the whitest since the release of “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”; as horror films go, it’s the antithesis of “Get Out,” inasmuch as its symbolic realm is both apparently unconscious and conspicuously regressive. . . .
The only moment of authentic inner expression, the acknowledgment of any identity at all, arises when, under siege from the creatures, Evelyn challenges Lee when their children are in danger: “Who are we? Who are we if we can’t protect them?” In that moment, “A Quiet Place” disgorges its entire stifled and impacted ideological content. The movie’s survivalist horror-fantasy offers the argument for turning a rustic farmhouse into a virtual fortress, for the video surveillance and the emergency lighting and, above all, the stash of firearms that (along with a bit of high-tech trickery that it’s too good to spoil) is the ultimate game changer, the ultimate and decisive defense against home intruders.
In effect, “A Quiet Place” is an oblivious, unself-conscious version of Clint Eastwood’s recent movies, such as “The 15:17 to Paris,” which bring to the fore the idealistic elements of gun culture while dramatizing the tragic implications that inevitably shadow that idealism. The one sole avowed identity of the Abbott parents is as their children’s defenders; their more obvious public identity is as a white rural family. The only other people in the film, who are more vulnerable to the marauding creatures, are white as well. In their enforced silence, these characters are a metaphorical silent—white—majority, one that doesn’t dare to speak freely for fear of being heard by the super-sensitive ears of the dark others. It’s significant that when characters—two white men—commit suicide-by-noisemaking, they do so by howling as if with rage, rather than by screeching or singing or shouting words of love to their families. (Those death bellows are the wordless equivalent of “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”) Whether the Abbotts’ insular, armed way of life might put them into conflict with other American families of other identities is the unacknowledged question hanging over “A Quiet Place,” the silent horror to which the movie doesn’t give voice.
Richard Brody, The New Yorker, April 10

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/20/2018 at 5:14 PM, Peter T Chattaway said:

The only other plot point I had some quibbles with was a nail that sticks out of the wood so prominently that I wondered what had happened (silently) to make it stick out like that, and why no one had noticed, and why no one deals with it once they *do* notice it.

- - -

The Silently Regressive Politics of A Quiet Place
The only other people in the film, who are more vulnerable to the marauding creatures, are white as well. In their enforced silence, these characters are a metaphorical silent—white—majority, one that doesn’t dare to speak freely for fear of being heard by the super-sensitive ears of the dark others.
Richard Brody, The New Yorker, April 10

Two thoughts:  the nail is exposed by the laundry bag earlier in the film, it gets snagged on a piece of splintered wood and is exposed when she pulls it up.  However, having dealt with nails in wood floors for the past fifteen years, it is a pretty unlikely event to have the pointy end of the nail exposed like that.

The second is that Brody's reading seems a little self-righteously ridiculous.  The silent majority fighting back against dark skinned marauders is a little too New Yorker out there for me. I'm all for exposing subconscious and outright bias, but this is unsupportable.  I'm sure there's a rhetorical error there somewhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×