Over the weekend, Mom and Buried and I went to the movies. We were visiting my family in Connecticut and we took advantage of the free babysitting to see A Quiet Place.
I enjoyed the movie but I had some issues with it. Particularly with the parenting.
First things first: if you live in a world ravaged by monsters that rely on sound to find you, DON’T GET PREGNANT!
Nonstop spoilers ahead. DON’T CONTINUE IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE.
A Quiet Place is a good movie and I enjoyed it.
It’s clever, well put-together, wastes zero time getting started, and it’s scary. The genius of the flick is the way it legitimizes the cheapest horror movie tactic there is – the jump-scare – by baking it into the premise. This movie is almost entirely made of jump-scares and you can’t even get mad about it! Against a mostly silent backdrop, every stray sound is enough to give you a heart attack. (Mom and Buried pretty much lived on my lap all movie. Note to singletons: BRING A DATE!)
The movie ratchets up the tension and heightens the stakes by under-girding the supernatural horror of the situation – seemingly indestructible Demogorgon-looking creatures that hunt via an extreme sense of hearing have decimated the planet – with the familiar everyday horrors of parenting, which is already about the most terrifying thing there is, even before literal monsters enter the equation. But once they do? Every moment becomes a living nightmare.
Of course, the parents in the movie being grade-A morons, they don’t help matters much…
The family in A Quiet Place – headed by the film’s director, “The Office” star John Krasinski, and real-life wife/one of my Five Celebrity Hall Passes, Emily Blunt – consists of two teenage kids and a toddler. At least, it does when the movie begins. Because it immediately becomes clear that not everyone is going to survive. No, the couple’s idiot children will make sure of that. Especially the toddler. Because if there’s one thing toddlers do, it’s make noise (other things they make: messes, you crazy), and noise attracts the monsters.
To be fair, it’s hard to blame the toddler, especially after his parents inexplicably let him wander around a store by himself and then inexplicably let him walk behind them on their way home through a forest that’s presumably full of monsters (not to mention inexplicably trusting any of their kids to not be dumb kids). Toddlers gonna toddler, what can you do?
Anyway, the inevitable happens – won’t be seeing that toddler no more! – and the movie jumps ahead a year. Whereupon it’s quickly revealed that, despite seemingly having learned from their previous mistakes and somehow surviving for months, they’ve actually learned nothing, because the family of five four is now awaiting a new baby!
These are not smart people. You’d think they’d understand that, despite the tragic circumstances, their odds of survival greatly increased without a toddler gumming up the works. You’d think they’d understand that having more than two kids in today’s world, let alone in a world full of terrifying monsters, is completely insane! But no, they decided to up the stakes by adding a baby to the mix! (Yes, I know they presumably created a new life to assuage their guilt over losing their youngest kid, but that doesn’t make the decision any less idiotic.)
In the world of A Quiet Place, making noise is literally the stupidest, most dangerous thing you can do, and babies are kind of known for it! To quote the late, great R. Lee Ermey: What is your major malfunction, numbnuts?
There are all sorts of other problems with the parenting in this movie, and millions of nits to pick. (I’m sorry, but ain’t nobody surviving for hundreds of days without making a sound, especially children. As someone commented on my FB page: “My kid literally never shuts up (even in his sleep). At this very moment he’s blowing a whistle.”) Emily Blunt delivers her own baby, by herself, screaming only once so as to avoid attracting the monsters. John Krasinski’s “shh” finger always seems unnecessarily smushed against his mouth. They live on a farm in upstate New York but somehow have access to plenty of pristine sand. The most egregious thing? The baby barely makes a peep the entire movie! As if.
(Also, the family discovers the monsters’ weakness when the deaf daughter’s hearing aid is set to a frequency that debilitates the monsters – the government/scientists couldn’t figure out that a possible way to attack monsters with enormous “ears” is to target those ears? At least they weren’t killed by water!)
To be fair, there is some parenting to admire, e.g., the couple’s dedication to (if not exactly roaring success at) protecting their kids, the father’s heroic self-sacrifice, and his final declaration of love to his guilt-stricken daughter. And there was one truly innovative childcare technique: the couple crafts a wooden box in which to store the baby, which itself is housed inside a sound-proof room (that for someone reason they don’t all live inside of at all times). What I wouldn’t give to have a reason to shut my kids away in a box! For their own safety, of course!
All in all, A Quiet Place is a fun, supremely intense movie-going experience that makes for an especially tough watch for parents with young kids. Mom and Buried basically got whiplash going back and forth from tears to fears as she couldn’t help imagining a terrifying world in which The Hammer and Detective Munch were forced to survive by keeping their fool mouths shut.
As for me, I’d trade places with this family in a second. Sure, the monsters are a drawback, but all the children are silent!