I’m probably amongst the late bloomers who only recently have gone to see the film ‘A Quiet Place’ after reading some good reviews and rumours on social media. I rarely go out to the cinema due to the fact that I’m broke and the tickets cost like 10-15 euros in Finland. But this one I just had to check out myself!
And because I don’t have any friends and I am such a wimp in general – I decided to hit the closest theatre all by myself in the middle of the afternoon so that it wouldn’t be too dark after finishing the film! And it all worked out pretty well since I found myself to have been entertained. And not pooping my pants on the way home. Thus, I am highly recommending you to go and see it with your own eyes (if you are looking a commercial cinema experience, of course).
Here’s the expended teaser trailer for you as a proof that my precautions were justifiable. The atmosphere already on the two-minute trailer is somewhat creepy.
Since the Internet is already filled with really good high-quality interpretations of the representations, technical stuff and themes of the film, I’m not going to get into that too deeply (though I added a couple of my favourite YouTube reviews). Obviously you shouldn’t watch these if you are not up for serious spoilers of the film.
First of all, I found ‘A Quiet Place’ to be really aesthetically pleasing to the eye – at least for me since I always enjoy the late summer forest landscapes and camper-like costumes.
On the other hand, this kind of setting can also be viewed as a romanticized representation of almost nostalgic-like happy family life in the picturesque countryside. Although at least science fiction fans can appreciate all the kids-lost-in-corn references. The atmosphere did remind me of something that could as well have been written by Stephen King.
My initial thoughts (that eventually turned into quite a post-modern-wave feminist reading) were small notions of the mundane day-to-day practises the family had developed to survive the new situation.
From my perspective, the Abbot family daughter being deaf must have given the family important preparedness to switch the majority of communication to sign language. Also the relatively isolated location of their family farm must have contributed to the fact that they (or at least most of the family members) had made it that far.
It was interesting to see what kinds of solutions the screen writers and production team had come up with in order to make the new kind of world, only with quiet nature-made (rather than man-made) sounds, alive. Moving without shoes, marking the screeching floor boards with paint, spreading sand in the most commonly used path ways and using leaves instead of plates is all part of this new, scaring world.
As a publicly out introvert, I must confess that in some perverted way I did enjoy this scenario…
And that’s exactly what we should be asking from ourselves: what really is the factor that makes this film such a horrific science fiction thriller? Is it only the creatures hiding in the woods or the fact that humans have been forced to mould their invasive life style by another life form?
It’s a known scientific fact that modern societies produce massive amounts of noise pollution penetrating into practically every ecosystem on this planet. The constant noise doesn’t only deteriorate the health and well-being of us, humans, but also the other animals living in both densely populated as well as wilderness areas. What comes to the natural habitats, humans can push the animals only so far – but what happens when you can’t run any further? Or worse, are bound to face excruciating daily pain in a surroundings you physically cannot get away from? We should remember that the way our species have evolved to sense our surroundings is not generic: what is a relatively pleasing rock concert to us could be a painful experience to some other species in this planet. Eventually the ending of the film can be explained by this, as well.
This kind of environmental/animal rights reading is interesting to juxtapose next to the phenomena described in the film. ‘A Quiet Place’ as a term indicates that the entirety of the space (as in the whole planet) has become silent – when measured with the past terms of societies. As a common theme in the monster-type of science fiction films, human kind is put up to the challenge of facing another, more invasive and dominant species – which is automatically perceived as a threat. (Though sometimes this logic is questioned depending on the depth of the film.)
What comes to the ‘liberality/conservatism’ and feminism aspects, the film can be read from multiple perspectives depending on your walk of life. It has also been suggested that the film promotes political silence (or criticizes it, depending on the view) in a world where freedom of speech has become jeopardized. Not giving any examples here but you may speculate yourselves.
Personally, my reading was that even though some of the representations were quite traditional (focus being clearly on the family unity), especially the strong female characters formed the core of the film.
I might be wrong, but I argue that it’s quite a contemporary solution to place the agony and strength of women as mothers in the centre of a science fiction horror story. ‘A Quiet Place’ does this by honouring and empowering the mother as a hero, not exploiting the symbolism of pregnancy in some twisted, gory way. The traditional masculine battle scenes are quite secondary ones in the film where the toughest, and scariest, parts are when the horrified viewer has to follow the mother going through the labour pain trying to stay silent while hiding the monsters. On the other hand, not all women are mothers or prefer to be valued as such. Also that aspect is represented in the personalities of the two elder kids (more about that below).
For me, the daughter’s character was the most interesting from the start. Though a lot of the tension was built around the mother, pregnant in a world where every little sound may quite likely lead to your death. Luckily they had developed the innovative (and creepy) baby-in-a-box solution!
The viewer is tempter over and over again to dive deep down to oneself in order to ask the ultimate question: what is the meaning of humanity and human life in a world where becoming a parent may very easily kill yourself – and all the loved ones near you. The mother clearly has an answer to this question: if they can’t protect their children, they have become the monsters themselves. It all comes down to a very American theme in survival films – family. The Abbots have clearly made an ethical choice to protect their children and family at all costs – even when it means risking your life in order to save another.
I found both of the leading ladies, Emily Blunt as well as Millicent Simmonds, to have given absolutely amazing screen performances on a film that only has a couple of lines of dialogue in it. Clearly the casting had to be just right in order to pick actors that can express a lot with small gestures and expressions.
The plot also has enough room to twist the traditional gender roles when the son has a more soft and ‘feminine’ personality which can be seen when he delightedly holds his baby brother in a way that at least I interpreted to be a more’ feminine’ than masculine or paternal one. The deaf daughter on the other hand is frustrated by the over-protecting father when she would want to explore and learn about the monsters lurking outside. Even if the son wants to be the one staying behind helping his mother and the daughter is the one rebelling against the will of the head of the family, the two siblings clearly pull it together when it comes to team work against the monsters. And that brings us back to the central theme of the film, family.
Have you already seen ‘A Quiet Place’? Please let me know what you thought of the film in the comments section or if you haven’t seen it, are you still planning to? Were you annoyed by the lack of special effects noise that would normally cover the sound of the crunching popcorn or did you enjoy the relative peace/horror the silence brought within? And, most importantly for me, do you have any suggestions for upcoming cinema-related posts?