I know I’ve said it before, but horror movies are not my cup o’ tea. In general, I do not see them, and I certainly don’t go to them on my own. But one too many film nerds in my newsfeed raved about “A Quiet Place” and so curiosity got the best of me. I needed to see what the buzz was all about.
Overall, I get it. It’s a decently creative premise, and one that’s challenging to execute properly. It almost feels like an assignment in film school that the professor would give in an effort to teach the importance of sound design: make a movie where the characters are not allowed to speak to each other*. It’s a concept that forces filmmakers to “show not tell.” And for the most part, I would say this was done well. The pacing is great, we feel tension throughout, the acting is impeccable.
BUT…. I still have some issues. So it’s time to be THAT chick that finds something negative in a movie with a 96% Rotten Tomatoes rating.
I can’t stand the fact that I know literally NOTHING about these people besides their quest for survival. The beginning of this movie is labeled as “Day 89” which I can reasonably infer is the 89th day since these monsters took over the world. I would’ve liked to see what “normal” was for this family before the monsters came into play. How did they relate to one another? What kind of relationship did the deaf girl have with her parents before the “incident” of Day 89? WE. DON’T. KNOW. And so that transformative journey element which we can find in most good movies is missing here. Monsters are trying to kill our protagonists. Our protagonists don’t want to die. That’s it.
“Alright Anne, but it’s a horror movie! Why can’t you just be happy with monsters trying to kill people? Can you really expect anything more than that?”
I’M GLAD YOU ASKED, MYTHICAL READER I INVENTED JUST NOW.
I am not happy with this conflict alone because I have a lot of trouble relating to it. While horror movies are fun in part because they reach that primal fear-for-our-lives side of us that hopefully isn’t activated by our real lives on a regular basis, it’s hard for me to see myself in any of these characters. Their world just doesn’t bear enough resemblance to mine.
You know what I can relate to? I can relate to a daughter who feels like she’s disappointed her parents. I can relate to a daughter who wants to rebel against her parents. I can relate to a daughter desperately trying to please her parents. Because unlike being chased by monsters, I’ve actually been there before. And while the movie sort of hints at these conflicts, it doesn’t do any of them justice.
Think of what this movie could’ve been if we had just one flashback to life before the monsters. (It has to be a flashback, the opening is too gripping to mess with). Let us see them enjoying a nice dinner and laughing at the little brother blowing bubbles in chocolate milk or something. Maybe they play some Boggle afterwards. Give us some way of understanding what kind of life these characters are longing to have again. Make it about more than just life vs. death, make it about life with grief vs. life without it. Show us more of the internal struggles each character faces so that we can relate it back to our own internal struggles.
So in the end, yes. The movie is good. And it’s also a movie that I think is worth seeing in theaters if you have any interest in it whatsoever. It’s just nothing that clicked with me personally and that’s made even more frustrating by how close it came. I want to be head-over-heels in love with this movie, but instead it’s just good.
*Ok, they DO use sign language. And there’s a few scenes where they are able to speak to each other due to soundproofing. But still.