Ironically enough, in a recent post for this blog I admitted that I had an issue with mocking subject matter in a way that made me sound elitist and narcissistic. Approximately a week later, I have found a subject that brought out once again that traditional style of ranting to myself for personal pleasure; a purely emotional response filled with rage, frustration, and a negative merriment reminiscent of my old persona. Once again, I must fight the urge to outright mock the living hell out of a film so bad in my eyes that I come across as a shit-throwing bigot for kicks. This in mind, I wish to rationally and calmly (relative term) explain why I think this film is so astonishingly awful. To do this, I have to spoil large portions of the film, so let it be known that extremely large spoilers lie ahead. But first, let’s provide some context:
A Quiet Place is, by all extents, a successful film. It has fantastic reviews from both critics and viewers alike and was able to make $50 million in its first box office weekend; for those who don’t follow box office trends, that’s a pretty good number for a non-superhero/non-Disney film. It has a ninety-something percent on Rotten Tomatoes with an 8.2/10 average rating among critics, a 4.0/5 average rating on Letterboxd, and an 8.2/10 average rating on IMDb. Setting aside how much I loathe jumpscares and intentionally skip out on horror films in theaters because these scares are amplified by the loud volume, I was intrigued with the film since seeing trailers for it a couple months back. I was intrigued by the premise and thought it could be a really neat experience, but was also scared that it had to be executed flawlessly in order to be totally fulfilling.
While I don’t assume anyone actually does this, for those who stalk my Twitter follows and Youtube subscriptions, one could assume that I am a fan of YourMovieSucks, or YMS for short. One would be right. About a week prior to my seeing this, YMS also saw this film and tweeted out this vague description of it. For further clarity, from his IMDb page, he gave it a 3/10. And so, it becomes a battle of two sides: pretty much everyone else vs. a movie reviewer whose opinion I trust. While quelling the fear of inevitable jumpscares, I was also looking forward to seeing which side I would eventually climb aboard.
It turned out to be YMS’s side, except with a stronger resentment.
The question thus becomes: why? Why did I hate this film so much? And the answer to this is something I believe YMS would agree with, as well. I hated A Quiet Place because it made no sense. Its logic was flawed. Its rules were inconsistent. The more I thought about it, the more I hated it, because I feel the foundation of fear and horror should come from a world that one can imagine themselves in and find no measure of escape the characters could. When the logic is flawed and the characters act irrationally, one begins to not take the film all that seriously. While I didn’t laugh at all during this film, I probably wanted to on a subconscious level. (Okay, I have to tone it down.)
Diving into spoiler territory, the premise of A Quiet Place is that the characters need to be as silent as possible in order to avoid being found by ultra-durable and savage creatures who can kill people in an instant. While this has little to do with the logic of the film, I will provide one other aspect of the film that I thought was a bad move: they didn’t actually make it silent. All throughout the film, the soundtrack plays an assortment of emotionally-charged tunes that project the mood of a certain situation, whether melancholic, bittersweet, or horrifying. Why not make the film without a soundtrack? Why not actually make A Quiet Place a quiet place? The jumpscares are irritating enough with the extra attention to LOUD NOISES whenever the film decides to go silent, but why not make it consistent? Why not actually make the entire film silent as to help immerse the audience within their situation further, instead of having the film tell us how to feel about the characters’ situation, which is already blatantly clear? It just seems like a bad move to me.
But let’s get to the major point of my resentment. The logic of A Quiet Place is incredibly flawed, and a lot of this is attributed to the behavior of the monsters as well as how the characters react to them. What’s even bigger than anything that actually happens in the movie, however, is the sheer unlikelihood that these creatures could’ve wiped out almost all of humanity—and there is a scene that makes this scenario likely near the beginning—after revealing their weakness. Their weakness is, I kid you not, sound. Sound is their weakness. They actively hunt down sound because it makes them weaker. This is evidenced by the end of the film when the daughter character, who is deaf, takes a high-powered hearing aid that her father (John Krasinski) makes for her in the beginning and shoves it into a speaker and cranks the volume up to extreme levels. This ensuing earfuck makes the creature stumble and has its head go haywire; alas, it gets back up, but before it can progress, the mother character (Emily Blunt) shoots it in the face with a shotgun, effectively killing it.
Here are when things become harder to swallow upon further consideration. So we’re expected to believe that these creatures, whose weakness is sound, never once came into contact with an incredibly loud noise, such as a rock concert, a plane takeoff, or gunfire (this one especially), only to have people realize “Oh, it doesn’t like sound!” and take advantage of that? Sure, one could make the argument that the fear of this new unknown species got in the way of rational thinking, but there are billions of people in the world, and not one was able to escape it, to think of it? Not the army? The navy? Any place with high-grade military weaponry that is both incredibly loud and horribly destructive? And if not that, what about microphones? Speakers? Anything that amplifies sound to absurd degrees? They never encountered that at all? Seems far-fetched.
Perhaps the most damning scene in the entire film is when the father character and son character go out into the wilderness to catch fish for the family. In this scene, the characters walk close to a river, which makes, at least according to the theater, pretty loud sounds on a continuous basis. Krasinski’s character takes advantage of this and allows his son to make small noises, capitalizing on this by screaming behind a waterfall with no repercussions. He teaches him “Small noises are okay. Don’t be louder than this noise.” There is one really huge problem with this: why aren’t the creatures here all the time? Why aren’t they in the river trying to kill the river for making sound? The waterfall for making even more sound? Better yet, why isn’t the family here all the time? It would seem a lot safer than the silent woods where they reside now. If any place with flowing water drowns out very loud noises, one being people screaming at the top of their lungs, why not just make your base of operations there? You have the tools to make a whole house and warning system out in the middle of nowhere without being killed (which, while on the topic, HOW???), why not just become water people and live life along the river?
What may be the scariest part about this film is that the creatures never act on a consistent basis. Sometimes they hear a sound and charge right for it, then slowly go around a house without any problem (despite being blind) while “looking” for traces of sound. One scene shows that they can hear something as quiet as a flock of cicada calls from far away, so why exactly can’t they hear stifled breaths from a few yards away? The debut scene of the film introduces the audience to the state of the world after the creatures’ dominance, as well as the family that hopes to survive. On the final act of this opening ten or fifteen minutes, the youngest son, holding a toy rocket, activates it and makes a lot of noise. A single creature, hearing this, charges at full speed towards this rocket noise and kills the son by… running into him really hard? Nothing is really shown outside of the kid suddenly disappearing from the scene after being “caught,” I suppose, by the creature. But this comes into question once we see the creatures in action later on; why did the creature kill the youngest son and then… run away? Later scenes evidence that they kill sound and then continue to investigate the immediate area for further sound. Did the family just sit there and make no noise for so long that the creature became bored and ran off? Later scenes show that these creatures will investigate for long periods of time, only impeded by louder sounds in further areas. Was it another sound that conveniently happened immediately after the son’s death? Questions everywhere.
And when it comes to the characters, why are they so irrational? Many scenes could’ve been avoided just by following the rules they understand will work through past experience. In what is supposed to be one of the most emotionally-moving scenes of the film, the father, after speaking with his wife who pleaded with him to protect their children, sacrifices himself to a creature to save his children, who were hiding in a truck that the creature began to attack. Right beside him, however, was a whole station full of farming tools, things which could have easily made loud noises if he had, I don’t know, thrown them on the ground? Clanged them against each other? If these creatures follow sound almost in a blind fury without the knowledge of knowing what the context is behind the sound, what’s stopping this family from constantly carrying loud objects with them at all times and throwing them at large distances away from them? Why not carry glass items and, when faced with a creature, throw them at a door, or a tree if outside, or anywhere that isn’t where they’re currently positioned? Why are these characters not taking advantage of these creatures’ ignorance? I guess they were just stupid? Thinking of all the possibilities to drive away these creatures makes them, in my mind, not very scary. Or rather, why not live by the river???
Before my fingers explode, let me point out one more thing that even regular filmgoers have spotted as a really, really stupid move: the decision by the parents to have another child. Through the context of the film, it’s implied that the two want to replace the youngest son of theirs that was killed at the beginning of the film. This perfectly humanistic need to cover the hole in their heart after tragedy is understandable enough, but does not make the decision any more really, really, really, really, really stupid. They are effectively marking themselves for immediate and inevitable death by bringing into the world the noisiest state of humanity possible. The scourge of the mothers-without-babysitters trip to the supermarket. Babies. Are. LOUD. And they do not stop for “No, stop! Creatures will fucking kill you if you keep making noise!” From a humanist standpoint, having another baby is understandable because they’re depressed and want some semblance of happiness in a scary and dangerous world. I understand that. Except here, it’s REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY STUPID!
Okay, so hopefully that explains why I despise A Quiet Place and think people are overhyping it way too much. If you enjoyed the film because you thought it was scary or because you thought it did a good job with its premise, that’s fine and dandy. What I won’t agree with is that this film is logical, and this 2,000-word-plus article is evidence of that. And for me, this lack of logic, consistency, or following of the rules set by its own tone make the experience one of horrid laziness and cheap thrills. If you want a great horror film, watch Love on a Leash or something. I don’t know. My brain stopped upon starting this paragraph.
The rating for this film and all others can be found at Letterboxd.