Falling down the plot holes: Why ‘A Quiet Place’ is a loud disappointment
If you haven’t yet seen John Krasinski’s largely dialogue-free horror A Quiet Place, you’ve likely heard or read about it at some point – after premiering at SXSW 2018 the buzz – unlike the film – was extremely loud. Heralded as an innovative blockbuster, we can’t deny the concept behind the film is unique, following a family living in post-apocalyptic New York who must live out their lives in near silence thanks to a recent infestation of lightning-fast, lethal monsters who hunt entirely based on sound.
Along with Krasinski, screenwriters Bryan Woods & Scott Beck (Nightlight) used the nature of the film to explore their admiration for the legends of silent cinema, such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. A Quiet Place has also been revered by critics for its placement of deaf character Regan (Millicent Simmonds), which many have called a “step forward” with regards to disability representation in film.
Although the writers drew inspiration from theatrical icons while adding their own modern twists, there is one major problem that overshadows the movie like a multi-faced, hypersensitive monster hovers over its prey – the film just isn’t very good.
Before we delve into all the reasons why, we should warn you we’re about to reveal some serious spoilers. We should also warn you to keep an eye out for the many plot holes you’re about to encounter – mind your step!
One of the biggest issues we have with this film is the fact that Emily Blunt’s character Evelyn Abbott is pregnant. That’s right. So not only did her and her husband manage to have perfectly silent sex, but they decided now was a great time to conceive a child. In a world where one noise could mean a death sentence, throwing a screaming, poop-filled, rowdy mini-human into the mix is completely inane.
Then there’s the question of why you’d want to bring a child into such a horrifically unforgiving world. It’s selfish, dumb, and makes absolutely no sense other than to bring some excitement to this otherwise slow and stale narrative.
In the basement of the family’s house, the father Lee (Krasinski) tries to make radio contact on foreign frequencies while experimenting on new hearing aids for his daughter. But why the fuck didn’t they just live down there aside from to occasionally hunt or gather food? Or better yet . . .
They were living in New York even before the monster infestation. You know, a city full of creatives, many of whom would’ve owned or rented soundproof recording studios. Why did they not setup camp in a place designed to block all noise using soundproofing equipment? Or perhaps we should be asking how a family with so little logic managed to outlive everyone else.
Making a monster scary is a tricky thing to do. However, making it anything other than a CGI mess of teeth, slobber, and some truly disgusting lugholes shouldn’t be too difficult. The monsters echoed what a toddler might fear lurks under the bed. Perhaps Krasinski would’ve benefited from studying films like The Descent or even The Babadook to learn if you’re going to do a monster flick, subtlety is key.
We soon learn one of the specialized hearing aids developed by Lee for Regan crossed signals with other frequencies, producing a deafening cacophony and ultimately defeating the beasts. Herein lies another plot hole: surely someone somewhere across the world would’ve figured this out beforehand.
After all, the pre-apocalyptic newspaper headlines show everyone was aware the creatures were hypersensitive to noise. Scientists, sound experts, hec even guitarists would’ve grasped this notion before the entire population had diminished.
Guns at the ready
It’s not until the final scene we discover the monsters can be killed by [drum roll] guns! Who’d have thunk it!? Shame they didn’t have their guns at the ready at the most essential moments such as 1) when the kid gets mauled 2) when the dad gets mauled 3) when Evelyn’s having a baby and it looks like she’s about to get mauled. Probably would’ve made life a lot easier.
We loath to be crude but come on – we’re humans, which means our bodies aren’t always silent. Farts, sneezes, coughs, snores – you’re telling us Evelyn never let one rip in the many years they’d been living in silence? Give over!
We get it – Krasinski was absolutely desperate to show off his fathering credentials. But did a majority of the speaking parts have to center around how much of a great dad he is? No matter how much parental love nestles within a man, there’s not one dad who would spend his final moments on Earth explaining how he’s always loved his daughter. He’d be too busy trying to find a better solution (like guns).
As mentioned, A Quiet Place was inspired by the legends of silent cinema. However, the great works of this era weren’t defined by their absence of sound, but rather how they presented stories visually. In Keaton’s and Chaplin’s work, sound is just not an important factor of the overall film.
As The Hollywood Reporter pointed out, this is something missing in A Quiet Place, as it doesn’t commit to that which made the silent era flicks so great. “American Sign Language and quiet whispering might be sufficient to keep the film’s unnamed super-predators from hearing you, but cinematically, they function just like typical spoken dialogue, telling the audience things instead of visually showing them, the greatest strength of the best silent films.”
If it was safe to be near the river and the waterfall as all other sounds were drowned out, why didn’t they live by the river (or anywhere else where there’s constant noise)? Or even if it proved to be impractical long-term, they should’ve at least resided nearby in the run-up to Evelyn’s child birth.
Overall, the noise trope was frustratingly inconsistent. On the one hand, the monsters could hear the slightest crackle of noise from miles away. On the other, the creature couldn’t detect Evelyn’s ridiculously heavy breathing in the bathtub or the basement despite the fact it was directly behind her. It just rendered the entire premise of the film as erratic, conflicting, and completely void of logic.
The ending, sweet Lord, the ending. If you hadn’t lost faith completely by the last scenes of the film, watching Blunt charging a gun before throwing a smirk at her daughter (you know, despite the fact her husband’s just been brutally massacred) is truly the final nail in this soundproofed coffin. Still, at least it leaves the movie open for a sequel. Yay?
As with World War Z, why wasn’t sound generally used to distract or attract the creatures? If it is known that something is sensitive to noise in general (even if it is unknown that particular frequencies are especially painful for them), then why not use sound as an asset to drown out other noises, like the waterfall mentioned in this review?
Also, the creatures themselves make noise; how does that fit in with their sensitivity to noise?April 11, 2018
Hi, I disagree with many of your points.April 12, 2018
The Baby Debacle: I found it believable that they wanted a new child and that they had a plan to handle the sound. Humanity must live on despite the monsters.
Basement/Soundproof: They were constructing it. It wasn’t finished yet. The plan was to live there once the baby was born. The baby was born prematurely, as you may have noticed, so the plan didn’t work.
The Monsters: I partly agree, less would have been more. But at the same time, to show the monster listening forced the filmmakers to show the monster really close up.
Greatest Minds: Yes, someone should have figured that out earlier. But maybe they did, and there were just too many monsters, so they couldn’t spread the word. We don’t know the whole backstory.
Guns: Look at the end. As soon as she fires the gun, loads of monsters come running. That might be a reason why they didn’t use guns so much – and may be the reason why military and others didn’t have much success…
Bodily functions: Perhaps you are right. But it would have been a completely different kind of movie if it had been about someone trying desperately not to fart…
Family Guy: I agree that his first priority at the end would have been to create another loud noise, away from himself. Like throwing the axe into the tool shed. That self-sacrifice came too easy.
Silent cinema: I think just because the film wants to be like silent cinema doesn’t mean no one can speak (in a whisper or sign language). In a lot of scenes, there is good visual storytelling, but maybe there could have been more. In a silent world, stating your emotions to someone verbally would be less important, you could say it with a look. At the same time, when they do speak, in the soundproof basement, they should have been more amazed at finally being able to speak to each other, I missed that reaction to speech.
River bed: Yes, to use constant sounds from the surroundings to hide their own sounds should definitely have been in their interest. To imagine the son hadn’t been shown a noisy river before that scene, that this was the first time his father tried talking to him at a waterfall, was not very believable.
Inconsistent details: I think the level of the sound that attracts the monsters is fairly well handled. The can run on sand, the can breathe indoors. That she breathes loudly maybe just comes down to the fact that we, the audience, listen much more carefully to the sound mix in this film than in any other film.
The ending: I liked it. They have finally found a way to stop the monsters. She now has a way to avenge her husband and protect her children. She and her children together will survive this, even though the father is dead. I can believe that satisfaction in her face. And nice that we didn’t get served an action-packed slaughter scene, followed by the reduced family walking into the sunset heading for a new life. Ending here is right.
Daisy Phillipson / Author
Perhaps you’re onto something with the “fart” conundrum, Bjorn. Watching the family as they struggle to desperately hold in their farts is a parody we’d love to see on the big screen (and arguably would have made a better movie than this one).April 12, 2018
Are you stupid or stupid which one if ur in a world wear your can’t make noise why in tf would have baby it doesn’t matter how heart broken your are it’s fucking common sense and on top of that how the hell does the creatures hear a raccoon walking that you don’t hear easily their like ninjas literally but doesn’t hear the baby crying when the husband was carrying them to safety everything about this movie was just out of this world of stupidity I’m not hating on the director but she’s a fucking idiot for making this shit movie people that rated this movie and gave it 95 rotten tomatoes either loss their brain cells while watching this movie and decided to give it good ratings or their just retarded idk know at this point but thank god the sequel isn’t out yet and also how tf did it not hear her in the bathroom with her heavy ass breathing and she literally screamed before the firecrackers went off but this nigga can hear a fucking raccoon walking on the ground with no noise like tf this movie is just down right stupid and I can’t get my brain cells that it destroyed back.June 6, 2020
Jeesh Damion, punctuation is your friend. And talk about stupid… You can’t even write coherently. That makes you the stupid one dude. I enjoyed the movie for what it was. Pure escapism, and not to be taken too seriously. Don’t think too hard. You might hurt yourself.July 3, 2020
Jesus Christ, did the person who wrote this have a stroke while watching this? Every. Single. One. Of these supposedly damning points is either easily explained or not a plot hole by definition. What does it take for one to write for “Film Daily?” I am all for well-reasoned critiques of any movie, but this is just a poor effort.April 12, 2018
Daisy Phillipson / Author
I actually did have a stroke during the watching of this movie and I’m very sensitive about it. Also, to answer your question: “What does it take for one to write for Film Daily?” A sense of humor definitely helps. Google it!April 13, 2018
Wow, you’re sensitive! Next time you write a shi++y critique he ready to take some criticism yourself. Filmdaily needs to get their talent better.April 28, 2020
THANK YOU! I completely agree. Also very entertaining, well-written piece.April 15, 2018
amen, sister. while it was entertaining to see the audience play along and play a part in the silence the movie required, it felt cheap that it had to revert to standard jump scares and dumb protaganists/monsters for its audience thrills. Hopefully we’ll get a smarter movie using the same audience silent participation technique at some point – one whose obvious premise/survival flaws doesn’t start pulling you out of the film with too many questions in the first 15 minutes or cheat the audience at the end. loose nail was the scariest thing in the film and good PSA for tetanus shot.
hey dad, if we can make more noise near the stream where we catch fish and scream next to the waterfall, how about we move the family someplace safe like here instead of staying at that silent scary-ass farm with the basement with the loose nails and flooding problems? or maybe just constantly play a bunch of loud cover music from some balloons since these monsters are so pathetically one-dimensional?April 15, 2018
I’ll add another plot hole. The director said the aliens arrived on a meteor. Really? These aliens would have had to somehow accidently end up on the meteor (A blind species wouldn’t even understand that the universe even existed). Then they would have had to survive on this meteor for countless millennia. After all, they would be coming from somewhere VERY far away. Interesting they could do this without food or air or heat. Then to top it off, coming through the atmosphere at well over 25,000 mph would have ruined a perfectly nice interstellar journey. Oh, and as an aside, did anyone else notice that they also seemed to have to sense of smell? I still enjoyed the movie however ?April 17, 2018
How does one explain the cornfields? After a full year has gone by, who harvested the previous year’s corn and replanted for the next year in perfect rows? I can’t believe that they ran a combine, nor can I believe that they harvested and planted those many acres all by hand.
Any explanation for that plot hole?April 25, 2018
I love your review and agree with every single point.
To the people who say: ” it’s just a movie” and “those are just monsters” clearly you have no claim towards the quality then. You’d drink an espresso and even if it’s a shitty one you’d say to anyone who complains “relax it is just an espresso it doesn’t matter how it tastes as long as it’s an espresso”
We have watched some movies and the plot holes accumulated just are annoying. Why? Because we want to take it seriously and seriously be horrified by the movie – why else watch a horror movie? It should be scary and not stupid. Sorry for me this is not scary and clearly it wasn’t for the author of this article.
Daisy, since you clearly know yourself some good horror movies could you recommend some that weren’t such a bother?August 20, 2020
Rianna de Bono-Smith
We have just the thing! Check out our article dedicated to the best horror movies on Netflix right now.September 8, 2020
Guns: One of the reasons guns didn’t work well was the aliens had a thick exoskeleton that seemed almost steel like in it’s rigidity. Once the hearing aid feedback loop began it opened up their armor on their head, and that’s when Emily Blunt’s character took the shot, similar to exposing an enemies weakness in a video game, if you will.April 17, 2018
It is just a movie!! Why does it have to be super realistic like scientist didnt find earlier a way to kill them bla bla etc. There is a monster for god’s sake, are you also going to say we don’t have monsters on Earth or maybe even Earth is flat? Gosh. Horrible post. Respect the idea behind a nice movie, which is an interesting idea and had never been tried before. You dont have to hate everything.April 17, 2018
I assume you make a lot of noise during sex then. Anyway, the movie didn’t make any sense. For blind creatures to move that was they need to be able to sense their environment somehow, like echolocation. And they would probably have a strong sense of smell. And since John Krasinski has admitted they are actually aliens from another planet, they should also be intelligent. They should be able to use acoustic sonar to find out where people live based on their activity and scent, and then simply wait for the right moment.
So, they come from another planet (don’t ask how they were able to build spaceships, and then navigate through space, without proper hands or eyes) and once they arrive, they decide to run around all over the planet killing humans and animals. Completely naked. If humans should ever land on an alien planet with an intelligent civilization, would we dress naked and start running around with knives and axes to kill billions of aliens all over their planet?
But that’s assuming they were able to come her all by them selves by building spaceships. The other alternative is that they came here on an asteroid or something. Just one, because the odds of more than one extrasolar object entering our solar system and land on earth at the same time is less than microscopic. And the only chance for aliens to survive would be in the form of eggs somehow able to survive the journey through space, the hot journey through the atmosphere, the landing and the new ecosystem.April 19, 2018
1. Why not have speaker system set up in the field, hooked to some soundtrack in the basement? So every time a monster gets in the house, blast some music to keep them away. They did have cameras and lights setup. Or record the water fall sound and play that on loop.April 21, 2018
2. Inconsistency. If other monsters are attracted by the gun sound. how come other monsters don’t come when one of the monsters is throwing things around or hitting objects and making noises?
3. Are the monsters territorial? How come only one monster comes after hearing a noise? But not until gun is fired, multiple come.
There were too many errors in the film.
did you say that, under these circumstances, it was selfish and dumb to have a child? well, i might soften it up with the “dumb” stuff but… it is ALWAYS selfish to have a child, always… how could it be otherwise? the child doesn’t exist until it does… who else’s needs/wants can your be serving but your own?May 12, 2018
Krasinski’s self sacrificial scream near the end was hilarious. He sounded like a Muppet.May 23, 2018
I’ve just gotten around to watching this movie during the 2020 “covid-19 quarantine.” (Similar to the movie plot with the exception that we are facing something we cannot see, but we can still make noise! Very prescient of John Krasinsky and the other writers…especially with the movie taking place in 2020, as evidenced when they show his sons cross at the bridge where he died: 1996-2020)
Another big glaring issue that bothered me was when/how did they silently plant the corn in those beautiful straight rows? Since they were on day 400+, it definitely wasn’t a pre-creature crop (not to mention the whole harvesting and clearing the fields from the previous season to be able to plant the current corn…?) And the creatures were definitely around then because their son died on day 89 so it can’t be explained by something like they moved to a remote area, did all this stuff, then the creatures eventually made their way there after the corn was planted.
And it is hard to believe that Lee painted the spots on the stairs where it was safe to step, but neglected to remove a dangerous nail smack in the middle of one of the safe spots? hmmmm
Finally, where did all the sand come from that Lee used to quiet their walks? I didn’t see a beach at the river.
Overall I still enjoyed the movie, it was definitely a new twist on traditional horror films. But the freakiest thing is the parallels now to the whole covid-19 “hysteria.” Eerie for sure!March 29, 2020
Kk I honestly don’t understand how tf this movie got 95 rotten tomatoes and people in the rotten tomatoes bitching about anyone that disses the movie like this movie is retarded on a whole other level and doesn’t make sense what so ever how this movie one a reward idkJune 6, 2020
Sigh… Damion’s incoherent gibberish totally devoid of proper grammar and punctuation is a perfect example of how texting is retarding our youth. The movie makes plenty of sense, IF you understand basic communication.July 3, 2020
suspension of disbelief : the movieAugust 8, 2020
You can’t create a supposed invicible creature and then give it such a big weakness. Everybody would have understood how to kill those ugly “spider monkeys” rip offs from dark souls 2 in a minute.
I will not parrot all the previous good point brought by the other posters, as english is not my first language and i don’t want to anger Thor with my bad grammar and punctuation, but overall this movie was a joke. A joke because it breaks the suspension of disbelief from the very first minutes of the movie, and ruin the rest of the flick for the audience with half a brain. If you watched a couple other sci-fi films on the same subject, you cannot like this movie, you cannot call it good or even average. It’s just plain bad and i’m glad i streamwatched it.
100÷ agree with u there ThibaultAugust 20, 2020
Totally agree. They all behaved like fools. Surpinsingly cheap jump scares. Clichés (like the infighting when total unison is absolutely necessary). Very scatterbrain planning with people running around all over the place and the nail was still there even when the kids went down the stairs – weird. A solid rock crusher or oversized meatgrinder would’ve done the trick – set it up outside and let it do the job – all aliens will pop up instantly to check it out and voila – end up pulverized one by one.August 11, 2020
This movie is so bad how come shooting a gun is way more dangerous than shooting some rocketsOctober 4, 2020
I initially liked this movie as it was doing different to the normal dribble …November 1, 2020
However researching the beginning when the four year old dies I am annoyed. In light of the monsters….why would you have a deaf child walking and then the four year at the end of the line. Where were the parents??? Ok it’s in fantasy land but more of the Hollywood dribble we can’t get away from!
I have near read anything by this author before, but after the review of this god-awful movie, I will be looking for more of her work.
Couldn’t be more in agreement. The plot holes in this thing made it absolutely maddening to watch. In fact, I couldn’t, I got halfway through then simply stopped.
Terrible, awful, movie.July 20, 2021