A Quiet Place, 2018

Directed by John Krasinski, watched at Peckamplex, London.


Having seen this yesterday, thought I’d write something quickly. A Quiet Place has been getting great reviews and, though not terrible, I am a little confused to why. Granted, I’m not a horror fan but even so, this I found this film difficult to go with.

The narrative follows an all-American nuclear family who live on an earth which has been overrun with aliens who are blind but hunt humans and animals when they make a noise. I went to see this film in part because this premise interested me, and I thought it might be a ripe allegory for our troubled times. What does it mean when literally speaking-up causes you to be attacked? How can this describe the experiences of people in flight from danger, forced to be silent as they are hidden in order to leave a space of conflict? What does a reversal of “Silence = Death” mean for contemporary culture? The way the central narrative situation could have been a meaningful symbol for various issues and conflicts was, however, absent. Instead, the film resisted speaking to a wider spectrum of ideas by remaining closely knit to an American ideology complete with a heroic father who goes out hunting whilst the mother stays in child-rearing. Perhaps this formula is slightly skewered by the deaf girl who becomes the film’s ultimate hero, though even then, her realisation to end danger occurs significantly later than the audiences. There is something wonderful when narrative works to match character and audience revelation, when you see the face projected in close-up frown in confusion before cracking into realisation and you too mirror this almost, gasp a little as your understanding click into place moments after the figure you empathise with has. Here, this is missed, the little girl’s face blossoming into recognition of a solution coming after our own by at least half an hour. Although dialogue is hushed, whispered and signed, the impact of relative quietness is consistently undercut by music cues that preface action so clearly and repetitively that surprise is somewhat extinguished. Every time something bad is about to happen the same deep musical notes enter and we know -yet again – the stakes have been raised again. Why is everyone loving this film? I can’t muse anymore on this one…

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