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 in the past couple of months – since premiering at SXSW 2018, the buzz has been (unlike the film) 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!
The baby debacle
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? 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.
The greatest minds
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?