A QUIET PLACE WAS GOOD NOT GREAT: A WRITING SAMPLE
CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR A QUIET PLACE! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
As a major fan of the horror genre, I am sometimes perplexed to see how poorly the reviews and especially the scores on aggregate sites rank some decent or even great horror movies. It often feels to me like sometimes people outside the genre see something labeled horror and go “UGH. Gross. Get that outta here.” Sometimes it feels like anything that isn’t as game-changing as the original Alien struggles to get above a 70 percent at some of these places and that always bums me out. So whenever something happens to break through and get rave revues it always makes me happy. I am stoked that A Quiet Place is getting rated in the 90’s almost everywhere it’s reviewed, but here is the thing; from where I am sitting this movie was just good, not great.
PLEASE do not misinterpret that. I enjoyed my time with the film and there were quite a few moments of genuine terror and shock. Near the beginning, when the youngest child gets absolutely obliterated by one of the films alien monsters I was genuinely stunned. I clapped my hand to my face in shock in the middle of the theater, I did not think that was gonna be the way that this film went. From then on out I was held in suspense, worried that any sound would lead to the deaths of the entire family right before our very eyes. But it didn’t. And as the film wore on I found some of my initial terror at the potential fates of our on-screen protagonists fading until near the film's climax I was disengaged and in full analytical mode.
Why did Jim from The Office not bring his shotgun with him to save his children? That was dumb. I thought this film was better than that. And then again, during the final confrontation with the creatures swarming the farm, I found myself questioning the entire premise of the film. Based on the evidence that had been shown to us time and time again throughout the course of the film in both Jim’s own research and the boldly declared headline of one in-universe newspaper: IT’S SOUND! (THEY HUNT WITH SOUND!)
The first scene, wherein they lose their youngest child takes place a little under 3 months after this prescient menace to all mankind has made itself present in our world. And you are telling me that in all that time (and it is almost a year and a half since the aliens arrived in the later scenes) that no one figured, hey, maybe we should try to hurt these things with sound-based weapons? I mean, the militaries of the world literally have sound based weapons called L-RADs that they use to fight pirates! And then to add insult to injury not only is this small family of survivors the ones to figure it out but the creatures still needed a good old fashioned bullet to the inner ear to finish the job despite the same newspapers claiming that their armor is impenetrable to both bullet and bombs? These swirling thoughts had me completely ripped out of the moment for the last 10 to 20 minutes of the film.
I am well aware that my complaints might seem a little nitpicky and I concede that point. There are plenty of good films where the logic is a little fuzzy and if you think about it too long things start to fall apart. But that is my point, I wasn’t. This happened to me as I watched the movie. As the film crept along from the introduction of its terrifying premise and moved on into its second half and I got used to the concept of this world the fright levels lessened and I found myself drifting into analytical mode, no intention to do so required. As a critic and as an author I tend to do this anyways, but when I am fully engaged in something and can suspend my disbelief I have no problem looking past even the most silly of contrivances. I love that a horror film is getting massive praise, and A Quiet Place is a good film, it deserves it. But as someone who has seen quite a few horror films in my day, I can readily say that this one has some prominent flaws. Perhaps I would have been engaged the entire time if either a) the movie had been a bit shorter, and had gotten over before I was able to disengage or, more preferably b) had a different ending that was a bit longer and focused even more on the family dynamics and strayed a little further from trying to explain their horror monsters. A Quiet Place is a fun film full of tension and memorable monsters and moments, I just found it to be more of a 3-star affair than a full 5.
*Notes: This could either be presented as is, expanded upon to be a bigger opinion piece OR if there isn’t a full review already on the site, formatted as one and expanded upon to become a full review of the film.