Horror for Breakfast

Saturday morning, I got to see A Quiet Place which I’ve been looking forward to for months, because it looked like an interesting concept for a horror film.

It was amazing. I don’t think I’ve had a movie I loved so much and which provided as much emotional resonance and as much fright with so little gore since I saw the 70s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (a film which, like this one, I deeply adore).

The basic premise of A Quiet Place is that the monsters that have invaded earth have amazing hearing and if you make sounds they will find and kill you.

What sold it for me wasn’t that premise, though, it was the deep emotional life of the family the film centers on. They go through some very human, normal things in this context and the sheer normalcy of the emotions — the love, the communication and lack therof, the teenager who acts out — throws the horror of their situation into a sharp, close focus.

The film, at its core, is about family and what that means and who does what and who gets to make those choices and why they make them. It’s also about survivor’s guilt and how that plays into one’s mental state.

The result is a deeply moving and human story that I found fulfilling and cathartic — even heartwarming, in spite of the horror.

Another aspect of the story I loved was the way disability played into the plot and the individual character arcs. One of the family members is deaf. This provides the family with a unique advantage in their particular situation (they all spoke sign language before the crisis began, making their lives easier after) and also provides that particular character with a unique challenge (how can you be certain you’re not making noise if you can’t hear noise?) The disability is not particularly highlighted or harped upon. It’s just a natural part of the character – one of the many challenges she’s facing in the post-apocalypse where she finds herself.

The story is compelling, it’s captivating. The characters are relateable and very human. The threats and peril are sold very well and keeps the movie in edge-of-your-seat territory.

Despite its being a horror film, A Quiet Place spares us a lot of blood and gore, instead manipulating our feelings by making us care, deeply, about its characters and their fates. I ran quite the gamut of emotions in the watching of it. There are stretches of relief and moments of sadness and humor to temper the fear.

Because of this, it might be a horror film which a non-horror-fan could watch, though there are also genuinely scary bits.

Do not freaking bring crunchy snacks into this movie, if you see it in the theater. You will be sad as you try to suck on them so you can chew them without disturbing anyone. I’ve never been in a film where silence was cleaved to more closely by the audience.

The film makes excellent use of silence vs sound. You pay attention to the ambient noises and when the music comes in, you notice.

All the technical elements come together to build something moving, affecting and powerful. This film is a must-see for anyone who likes horror films. I may go again, myself.