This blog contains spoilers from John Krasinski’s film “A Quiet Place.”
If you’re going to get me to watch a horror or thriller movie, it’ll have to meet some standards.
It will need to have an underlying statement — “Get Out,” anyone? — or thoughtful, masterfully done cinematography (think “Black Swan”). Movies that are scary just for the sake of being scary won’t cut it.
That being said, I agreed to see “A Quiet Place” a couple weeks ago mainly out of curiosity. The director and co-star, John Krasinski, is a feature character in the widely beloved TV comedy, “The Office.” The plot piqued my interest. So I shrugged my shoulders and thought, “Why not?”
I left the theater thinking I’d never seen a horror film more casually genius.
There’s much to love about “A Quiet Place,” but the strongest chord it struck with me is how it portrays its female characters. They’re resourceful, loving, strong and very, very capable, and those traits are woven into the plot as simple fact. It’s just how they are.
The movie follows a family — Krasinski as the father, his real-life wife Emily Blunt as the mother and their two children — living in a world stricken with fear over deadly creatures that hunt based on sound. Because these creatures cannot see, Krasinski, Blunt and their children are safe so long as they remain completely silent. They communicate in sign language — don’t worry, there are subtitles — and live on a homestead they built in what appears to be somewhere in the Midwest.
As a decided observer of feminine and masculine themes in the movies I watch, I was impressed with the way “A Quiet Place” doesn’t strip Blunt and her preteen daughter of their femininity in order to portray them as strong and capable. The message here is that women in film can be both soft and motherly and courageous and strong, not confined to one pairing or the other.
While Blunt takes on the responsibility of food preparation and home-schooling her young boy and preteen daughter, she also manages to go through labor in total silence while those deadly creatures are stalking through her home. She comforts her children. She kills monsters.
In one scene I found particularly telling, Blunt and her daughter face off with one of the terrifying, flesh-eating monsters while the young son and newborn child hide in a corner. In too many horror flicks, women are the ones cowering in corners.
But what I love about this scene is that the director’s decision to have the boy hide instead of fight doesn’t feel like a pointed message about women being stronger than men. It’s a realistic portrayal of family dynamics: As the eldest sibling, the daughter assumes the role of protector when she’s needed.
The movie (mostly) doesn’t make a fuss about how it portrays women. It’s just natural, and I wish more movies were like that.
While “A Quiet Place” celebrates women, it’s worth noting that it doesn’t put down men to do so. Blunt and Krasinski are both very clearly co-protectors and nurturers throughout the movie.
“A Quiet Place”’s celebration of women isn’t the only part of this movie worth lauding. I haven’t touched on the deaf community and how this film is a step forward there (the daughter’s character is deaf on screen and in real life), but plenty of other writers have.