In Favor of Psychological Horror
*****Please note there are spoilers in this post so stop reading now if you haven’t seen A Quiet Place.*******
I don't usually review books, let alone movies. However, after watching A Quiet Place, I felt compelled to post about it partially because it is a really well-made film and partially because it’s the type of almost Twilight Zone kind of story that I love and sometimes write. There are some truly nail biting moments that you don't always get with most horror films. I used to love watching all types of horror movies, but after a while, they seemed to rehash the same old tropes. When I was a kid, Jaws, Halloween, and the original Friday the 13th, terrified me. As I rewatched these films through the eyes of an adult, I was slightly disappointed because monsters aren't typically things that scare me any more. That is not to say that I don’t enjoy these types of films. From time to time I still love those movies because of the nostalgia and sometimes a gore fest is just fun to watch.
A Quiet Place is quite different from most horror movies. This movie uses sounds and silence to convey tension throughout the entirety of the film. And the movie has elements of what I fear in it. What scares me now are things like losing loved ones, facing an unknown enemy that is stronger, faster, and more ruthless than anything that’s been seen on Earth before, and losing technology on mass scale. I did have some questions about how this family still had electricity with seemingly most of the world’s population gone, the mother having medical skills that seemed far more advanced for someone who didn’t appear to have any formal medical training, and how the family conveniently lived on farm with all that corn. It would have made more sense to me if the family ended up in some random uninhabited farm house and made the best of it. I can’t fathom that it was easy to harvest any of the crops quietly and quickly enough to meet their needs, but I never saw a lack of food.
That being said, the main reason the story works is because you care about the family much more than the monsters that are hunting them and the questions around sustainable food and electricity. I can’t say I’ve ever cared that much about the teens in the slasher films. Most of those characters are two-dimensional and annoying, so most of the time I just end up rooting for the killer. But this time, I found it difficult not to root for a loving family with a bright kid who is deaf and cannot hear the monsters when they come after her, let alone if she makes an unintentional sound. I have to say I waited the entire movie hoping that the latter didn’t occur. It was a pleasant surprise that her handicap was something that helped them all in the end.
There truly are some horrifying things that occur in this film. The fact that this movie kills off a toddler within the first ten to fifteen minutes of the film, and even though I found it extremely upsetting, I didn’t stop watching because I resented the death. I’ve experienced the loss of a child so this part would have been extremely hard for me to watch either way. The film moves at a quick pace that continues until the finale. This helped make the death bearable because the movie didn’t draw out the scene. It also helped that the child was carried off, which is not something that happened when any of the other characters died. There was meaning to this child’s death in the film, not only because he was so loved, but because it emphasized that the world had become so treacherous that not even innocence was forgiven. There could be no mistakes, no misplaced footsteps, and I suspect, no poorly timed flatulence could occur without swift and merciless attack.
I would highly recommend this film to anyone wanting to see something that is more psychological horror than creature feature. It’s definitely worth the cost and the time to watch.