Tuesday July 03, 2018
Movie Review: A Quiet Place (2018)
I’m glad the kid bought it in the first 10 minutes—he was a pain and a liability. Also, though most of us go in knowing the plot (armor-plated, insect-y aliens hunt us by sound), we still need to see it in action.
It's Day 89, we’re told, by which time towns are ghost towns, newspapers have stopped printing (IT’S SOUND reads the headline of one of the last local papers printed), and the Abbott family, led by Evelyn and Lee (Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, who also wrote and directed), take the clan into town to pick up supplies and get son Marcus (Noah Jupe) his meds. They’re all barefoot, silent, signing. The eldest, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), is deaf, so maybe they had a headstart on learning that. But the youngest, Cade (Beau Abbott), even after 89 days, still doesn’t get the danger. He’s bored, wants a toy rocket on a top shelf, and, reaching for it, knocks it off. Only a shoestring catch by Regan saves the day.
Dad then tries to counsel Cade—again—while taking the batteries out of the toy. (Odd, right? Is this the one “Batteries not included” toy in the world?) But Regan takes pity, hand the boy the rocket, and then the boy—because he’s so dumb—grabs the batteries, too. On the silent walk home, single file on a path of sand to muffle footsteps, the toy suddenly lights up and makes the usual toy noises, and the boy goes vroom vroom with it. Mom stifles a horrified scream, Dad races back to try to save the brat, but ... Clickety clickety ... chomp! Bye, kid.
Do they eat us, by the way? I was never sure. Is that how they nourish themselves? Later we see a raccoon getting squashed, which makes me wonder how many animals are left. No animals that roar or trumpet or bark. Maybe a few deer; they’re quiet. Maybe some kitty cats. Same. Jellybean would’ve lasted until she began meowing for dinner.
Then it’s a year later. Dad has his workshop set up in a soundproofed basement with a whiteboard on which he’s written the pertinent questions of the day:
- How many?
- Attack in Packs?
On the other side, he’s written what we know: They’re blind and they attack sound. But the best bit is written at an angle, with the final word in all caps and circled in red pen: What is the WEAKNESS?
Ah yes, the weakness. Because there has to be one. We can blame H.G. Wells for that assumption. Ever since “The War of the Worlds,” there’s got to be something that messes with attacking aliens. In the 1898 novel, it was pathogens; in the 1953 film, bacteria in the air. Perhaps no alien weakness was dumber than the one in “Signs”: water. It was like acid to them. Meaning they tried to take over a planet whose surface was 71 percent acid and whose inhabitants were 60 to 80 percent acid. One wonders how they were smart enough to make spaceships in the first place.
Are the Abbotts smart? They’ve survived this long, and have quiet meals of fish and vegetables, and play board games at night; and Dad is trying to find a Cochlear implant to help Regan hear again. But there’s also this:
Mom is pregnant.
Think about that for two seconds. In a world in which dropping a book may mean death, they’ve decided to bring into the world a creature whose main function, besides eating and shitting, is crying. Bawling. How long would this thing be a liability? Two years? Five? What’s the likelihood they would survive all of its crying jags and temper tantrums? Zero? Bupkis? Less than nothing? I just saw a movie where someone was hesitant about bringing a child into a world such as ours. And Mr. and Mrs. Abbott don’t even have a conversation about it?
And that’s assuming you get past the pregnancy (in which mom is in a weakened, vulnerable state) and the birth (which tends to get noisy). Me, I couldn’t get past this plot point. I kept wondering when the other shoe would drop. With a thud.
It does a few weeks later. Dad takes a reluctant Marcus out to teach him how to catch fish—and to show him that louder noises, such as a roaring river, can mask their normal conversation and keep them safe—and Mom does the laundry. She’s less than three weeks from the due date but she’s doing laundry. OK. Of course, she snags the laundry bag on a nail on the basement wood steps, exposing it. The camera holds on it: “This ain’t gonna be good.
It’s worse. First her water breaks, then she steps on the nail. She refrains from screaming but drops a picture frame, and it crashes and attracts You Know What. So she’s bleeding from her foot while going through the pain of childbirth and an alien is stalking her. She manages to turn on the red warning lights and crawl upstairs into the bathtub, but she’s only saved by two things:
- Dad sends Marcus to light the fireworks display to distract the aliens just as Mom screams her one childbirth scream
- Mom has the quickest delivery in human history
Afterwards, everything begins to fall apart, and not just because they suddenly have a crying, eating, shitting thing in their midst. No, everything just goes wrong. A pipe bursts, the basement is flooded, and the kids fall into a corn silo. The noise they make surviving alerts an alien who attacks. But—ah ha!—Regan’s new cochlear implant emits a high-frequency noise which is painful and disorienting to them (what is their WEAKNESS), and it flees. As more aliens approach, Dad, for some reason, decides now is the time to panic: “Run to the truck!” he says. But isn’t the point to not make noise—particularly when they’re around? Don’t move. Certainly don’t run. And certainly don’t run toward a creaking, metal truck. But by this point, the Abbotts have gotten sloppy. Or the plot has.
There are a few subplots, too, that didn’t do much for me. Regan still blames herself for the death of Cade. She thinks Dad blames her, too—that he doesn’t love her. But he does. Which he shows—and signs—before sacrificing himself to save her.
It’s Regan, in the end, who figures out the alien’s weakness: the high-frequency noise, which disorients them and exposes their flesh. And it’s Mom who blasts the alien with a shotgun. Then, via Dad’s camera monitors, they see more aliens approaching. They look at each other, nod, and Mom locks and loads.
That’s a great ending.
It’s a good movie, too: clever premise, suspenseful throughout. I could just never get past the idiocy of the pregnancy.