Shhh! Don’t ask too many questions.
A Quiet Place is clearly a superior horror film- its tautly staged, with a small cast and some genuine jumps/scares, with a feeling of dread and doom throughout. Its probably one of the better films I’ll see this year. And yet it also irritated me. We all carry our baggage into films, which is no doubt why some people love one film, and others don’t, and while I admired and quite enjoyed A Quiet Place, some of its choices turned me cold.
Wrong film on the wrong night, maybe? It happens, Usually I like films leaving things unsaid, or simply putting mysteries up into the air for the audience to chew over- sometimes its all part of the fun. But with A Quiet Place, something felt a little off. The premise, for one thing- it’s the near future, and there has been some kind of apocalypse leaving civilization in tatters and most of the population dead. Deadly creatures prowl the land, totally blind but able to hunt prey by sound alone. Which is fine, it makes a change from zombies. But if they are blind, and if they are indeed aliens, how’d they build space ships and fly here? Or how come they don’t have a keen sense of smell to match the incredible hearing? Or fingers or thumbs for using tools or… We just accept the bizarre premise of blind monsters and move on, I guess.
The streets of a derelict town are deserted, where are the dead? Did everyone just up and leave or did the creatures whisk their victims away? And regards those creatures, what exactly are they? I’ve been told by one person that they are aliens, whereas I thought they might have been a genetic experimentation gone wrong, or maybe they are something more demonic, Its never said, and I suppose on another day I’d be praising that ambivalence, but right now I’m not sure the film deserved a pass.
I think a part of this are the many other things we are expected to just accept, as if unearned- the details of the Abbot family, for one. The father, Lee (John Krasinski, who also directed this) is more than just handy, he’s some kind of gadget nut able to wire up a farm with lights, cameras and a basement full of tech, and he’s a bloody good survivalist in general, setting up traps, growing food. The mother, Evelyn (Emily Blunt, who I usually love in just about anything), seems to have medical training alongside the survivalist stuff (so is that survivalist thing something they teach in American schools?), and is smart enough to teach her kids since schools out, like, forever. Heavily pregnant (a dubious move in this scenario, you’d have thought) she turns out to be some kind of superwoman later, giving birth not only alone but in total silence (grit those teeth, woman) and managing to put her foot though a nail, and later pull it back off that nail, in stocky silence- Captain Marvel, eat your heart out.
But you know, the unknowns and the fortuitous details just keep on piling up. Did they always own the farm they are living in, or did they just find it and make it the fortress of solitude/silence it’s become? I guess it doesn’t really matter. Or what about those other survivors, whose other fires in the night suggest the Abbots are not alone?
I suppose I should just shut up (like the characters do) and enjoy it. And I did, really. Its a good film, but it just… I don’t know, just pushed credulity a little too far. As I remarked a while ago in my Black Summer review, in the real world, if the shit hit the fan, most of us would be in the dead majority in no time at all. We’d be no good sorting medical ailments or growing crops or engineering clean drinking water or setting traps or managing sewage, never mind keeping one step ahead of deadly monsters. They wouldn’t be able to make a gripping movie about most of us because it wouldn’t be a very long one. But make it a little more realistic, dial down the heroics or the perfection, maybe, of people who don’t lose their shit at the earliest opportunity?
Then again, the inevitable sequel might explain everything and that might just equally piss me off, go figure.