What happens when a critically lauded film isn’t actually that great? In this case A Quiet Place has no sound, and the emperor has no clothes!
[This rebuttal CONTAINS LOADS OF SPOILERS!]
First off, I’d like to say A Quiet Place is a unique premise that offers a lot of potential; I can see why reviewers are falling over themselves to give it high scores. And honestly that was part of the problem – walking into an event with the bar already set so high often leads to a sense of disappointment when said event inevitably fails to live up to expectations. Such was my experience with this movie – I went for fun, not on assignment. I was settled in, fully expecting to relax and enjoy myself. Instead I got more and more agitated as time went on, to the point where I finally grabbed my trusty journal from my bag and started taking notes because I had to document the flaws. (I’m a good time!) Here they are, in my opinion:
1. The division of chores is sexist AF! Sure, it’s the end of days and there are few modern conveniences left to speak of. But does that really mean we’re stripped down to traditional hunter/gatherer roles? Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt), weeks away from her due date (with an ill-advised fourth child – more on that later), is shown schlepping huge bags of laundry up a steep flight of stairs while her husband, Lee (John Krasinski), is off fishing. Evelyn is also responsible for the cooking and cleaning while Lee tinkers in his workshop. There are literally no societal roles left to adhere to – feel free to switch it up!
In another scene, Lee is going out foraging and insists his son, Marcus (Noah Jupe), come along. Marcus does not want to go and repeatedly begs to stay home. Evelyn basically tells him he has to assist his father, because he wants to teach him some all-important survival skills. Meanwhile, their eldest child, a deaf girl named Regan (Millicent Simmonds), is begging to go out in the wilderness but is told she must stay and help her mother. This bullshit, from the most enlightened parental minds in all of Brooklyn?!
2. Speaking of that baby on the way… Hello, have y’all heard of family planning? Because now would be the time to practice it! The Abbotts are shown rooting around in an abandoned grocery store for supplies – why not grab a package of condoms while you’re at it? Or heck – take them all! All of the condoms in the world are now yours! (Also, why not break into the pharmacy and help yourself to every birth control pill you could hope to get your hands on? Double down on this shizz.) Bone ‘til you’re blue in the face – just don’t bring an infant into this terrifying, dystopian mess that’s now your reality, because that is just crazy selfish.
3. So, what’s your plan for when the baby cries exactly? The Abbots have their children – Regan, Marcus, and (briefly) Beau – trained to be silent, living each day with cautious restraint. This is because the survival of THEIR ENTIRE FAMILY relies on each and every person being uber quiet AT ALL TIMES (as the very name of the film suggests). One loud, errant noise equals death. (The blind, nameless aliens that now roam Earth hunt by sound.) That works for the existing children who are old enough to understand the stakes and can adhere to the rules. But an infant is acting on instinct and will be doing so for several years, with few comprehension skills. Are you going to muzzle the baby? Do a backwoods surgery on its vocal chords? Seriously, what was the plan?!
4. That tiny oxygen mask will haunt my soul. Oh, here is one fun plan – immediately after the baby is born (thank god it was a boy – more male energy to help papa with the hunting) they scramble to the basement for shelter, put a miniscule face mask on the newborn, and PUT IT IN A MAKESHIFT COFFIN to ensure further soundproofing. Man, that kid is gonna need therapy. Oh, whoops - all of the counselors are dead. Welcome to the nightmare that is emotional maladjustment.
5. Hi, childbirth – it’s Suri Cruise calling. Okay, one last thing about the baby – I swear. So, on top of getting pregnant, bringing another human into this hellscape, and putting your child in a coffin, circumstances also dictate the need for a completely silent birth. Man, you guys just love a challenge don’t you? Are we sure this isn’t an infomercial for Scientology?
6. Argh, I lied! Evelyn never looked that pregnant. At one point, she’s shown taking her own blood pressure before the camera zooms in on a calendar that helpfully points out her due date, which is looming three short weeks away. Cut to a side-view of a lithe Evelyn with an adorable baby bump that looks to be in the four to six-month range, at best. Oh, and she’s got a nice flat stomach immediately after popping that thing out. “Who me? I didn’t do anything. I lost all the baby weight breast feeding!”
7. That whiteboard sure is handy! “Medical supplies” are listed under the “To Survive” portion on the whiteboard in Lee’s office. Um, “Note to Self” – medicine comes in handy when you’re ill. Good thing that’s written down – imagine having to remember that on your own!
8. Hey, let’s pause for a day and an age before we clip those wires. Beau (Cade Woodward), the Abbott’s youngest child (before the aforementioned infant) meets an untimely demise due to a toy rocket he found at the store, which happens to come equipped with still-working batteries. Four hundred days later (it’s literally listed as such in the film) Regan is shown clipping the wires before placing it at the alter she’s created for her brother. Clipping those wires wasn’t the first order of business? THAT’S WHAT KILLED HIM, AND COULD KILL YOU! But sure, let’s wait on that.
9. The problem with the nail. As mentioned, at one point Evelyn is shown dragging two large bags of laundry up the stairs (it’s a woman’s place – don’t question it), and one of the burlap sacks gets caught on a nail. Mind you, it’s not the nail head – it’s the tip of the nail. So whoever created that staircase built it with all of the nails pointing UP towards people’s feet – a completely awkward and incorrect way to make such a thing. (I guess no one consulted Angie’s List.) And it’s not just the nail tip – half the freaking thing is sticking up through the plank, which happens to be situated on the path that’s safest to transverse the route to the basement. Evelyn somehow doesn’t notice the nail, even though the bag is caught on it. The camera, however, doesn’t miss it – it gets its own close-up. Hmm… foreshadowing? Because, yep, later Evelyn steps on it. Better not scream! Also, consult the whiteboard. Maybe it’ll remind you to get a tetanus shot.
10. The Popcorn Titanic. As the tension grows, Regan and Marcus get separated from their parents and end up on top of a grain silo. Marcus falls in and starts drowning in popcorn kernels. Regan is able to maneuver the massive metal door (that broke, causing Marcus to fall into the vat) to help save Marcus from drowning, ala Jack & Rose/Titanic style. Later, when a monster appears out of nowhere, both the children are able to again lift the door to their advantage for survival. Orville Redenbacher would be proud!
11. Btw, how far away is that grain silo? Lee spots his children on top of the silo and begins running towards them. Later, after the kids escape, he is still running…
12. Tinnitus, bitch! The aliens, who hunt by sound, are felled by a ringing in their ears, amplified by the deaf daughter’s hearing aid. I’ll just leave that here (hear – haha).
13. Slashed stomach? No problem! Yes, of course Lee meets his demise when he attracts an alien (by shouting) in order to save his kids. His stomach gets slashed and he’s bleeding out, but he has the time/energy/ability to stand up and sign words of love to his daughter (who’s been carrying the weight of guilt for Beau’s death). A nice, tidy resolution for all – woot!
14. Ack, look behind you! The monster is dead! Oh, wait – it’s still alive, you say? OMG – are you really going to drag the most overused trope in all of horror out for the finale? You are? Okay…
15. Now’s not the time for poor aim. Evelyn is within two-feet of the monster, with a loaded rifle pointed at its head, but it takes her FOREVER to line up a shot. Listen lady, do you want to save your family or not?
I’ve got 99 problems, and A Quiet Place is definitely one.