A Quiet Place: “Don’t make a sound”
A Quiet Place begins in what Roman poet Horace termed “in media res”, in the middle of things. We enter the world of A Quiet Place in the middle of the narrative, without any preamble.
As the film opens, it is Day 89 of a world that is dramatically changed from the normal course of events on Earth. Due to events and circumstances that are never explained, our world is inhabited by monstrous creatures that hunt human prey, along with anything else that makes a sound, using super sensitive hearing. No explanation is given about their origins or intentions. Only one thing is certain. They will hunt you down and kill you.
The Abbott Family
Humans must learn to be silent. It’s not a situation where you have to be silent for a few minutes or an hour or a day. Silence is permanent. It’s not linked to a time of day or night because the creatures listen and they listen all the time. They never sleep.
Evelyn and Lee Abbott and their children Regan, Marcus and Beau navigate this world of quiet. Silence equals survival. Silence doesn’t mean whispering. You can’t speak. You must be aware of the sound your clothes make as they rub together, a squeaking door, or a creaking floorboard. The slightest innocuous sound, such as a noisy, battery-operated child’s toy, a radio broadcast or a slamming door, will bring down the rampaging fury of the beasts. The Abbott’s even walk barefoot on a bed of soft river sound which muffles their footsteps.
Humans communicate with other communities by lighting fires at night to indicate their presence, although you’d have to wonder at the wisdom of lighting a fire that just might crackle and hiss and attract the monsters. And there’s the inexplicable, strategically and conveniently placed nail on the staircase that’s been located specifically to insert a plot point around creating noise that attracts the creatures. Too obvious.
The fires and nail pale into insignificance compared to Evelyn and Lee’s decision to have another child. Yes, Evelyn is about to give birth to a child which will cry, as babies do. Talk about putting an audible tracker on your family that’s tuned to the creatures hunting frequency.
The Abbott’s home is a fortress with secret rooms designed to muffle sounds in case the creatures appear. The invasion of their home by monstrous creatures echoes George Romero’s approach when filming the landmark zombie film, The Night of the Living Dead (1968). In that film, flesh-eating zombies invade the sanctity of the suburban home. In A Quiet Place, The Abbott’s home is no longer a sanctuary. It is a fortress and a cage.
George A. Romero's The Night of the Living Dead & Evelyn and Regan in A Quiet Place
The Abbott family has an advantage in this world of silence. Their daughter, Regan, is deaf and they all know sign language, which allows them to speak without making sounds. This also places Regan and her family in jeopardy because she can’t hear if she’s making a sound or know if the creatures are nearby.
Questions arise about the conventional depiction of Regan and Marcus’s gender roles. Regan has a strong, confident nature and her personality is stifled to create tension within the family, especially with her father.
The sound designer for A Quiet Place has managed to tone down the sound so that we exist in a world of quiet. This allows us to know the Abbott’s world. At times, I wanted to turn up the sound but that’s the key to the sound design, creating a world of subdued sound. Learn to be quiet and listen. The attenuated sound heightens the suspense. Sound manipulation becomes a potent force.
The key to counterattacking the creatures is evident but you will need to put on your logical hat to work it out. That doesn’t mean the creatures are defeated because A Quiet Place Part II is about to be released.
A Quiet Place is fundamentally a survival story. It is about family, love, sacrifice and what it means to be human. The monsters are essential in establishing the premise for survival but the monsters themselves are more frightening when we see and hear a suggestion of their presence rather than the full blown visions of the monsters, which look like an outward representation of a human intestinal tract. Unpleasant but not all that scarey.
A Quiet Place connects us to our primal fears. The creatures are a manifestation of our internal fears and the threat of external malevolent forces. The true terror is the family’s fear.
If you’re a bit of a scaredy-cat then watch A Quiet Place with the lights on in the comfort of your home. Just don’t make a sound. The creature might be behind you.
Official Trailer A Quiet Place
Posters, production stills and official trailer © Paramount Pictures
A Quiet Place (Released 2018)
Available to watch on AppleTV+ and Prime Video
Watch the original before the release of the continuation of the survival story in A Quite Place Part II.
Selected cinemas are screening a double feature of A Quiet Place and A Quiet Place II a week before the official opening of A Quiet Place II. Check sessions at your local cinema.
FILM EXTRA | Screening Now: A QUIET PLACE PART II: THE STORY CONTINUES
READ Eclectic Stefan's film review: A Quiet Place Part II
A Quiet Place Part II (2020)
Release date: late May 2021.
Check your local cinemas at your location to get the exact date for your city. Based on the monstrous box office success and earnings of A Quiet Place (box office earnings of $340 million on a production budget of $17 million), A Quite Place Part II is expected to be equally successful. However, due to the pandemic, it’s release was delayed. It is a major release with expectations it will be a box office behemoth.