The funny thing about my movie watching is that it’s a reflection of my scattered lifestyle. While I was teaching my career progression was linear with a goal of moving beyond Nashotah House to a college or university that shared my values better. Publishing was a fallback, and I’ve learned a lot but I haven’t unlearned my academic leanings. So, like the rest of my life, my movie watching is piecemeal. I found a copy of A Quiet Place in a Halloween sale. My wife bought it for me and on a weekend on my own I watched it. I had no idea what it was about, but I’d read that it was an intelligent horror film, and that was good enough for me! There may be spoilers here if you live in a cave, like I do (metaphorically), so be warned.
The backstory isn’t fully spelled out, but the monsters in this movie are blind and attracted to their victims by sound. The focus is on a family in upstate New York that’s trying to survive without making any noise. Since there are kids involved, you’ll see how tricky this could be. John Krasinski’s film builds the suspense wonderfully. Borrowing from M. Night Shyamalan at his best, and Alien and even Stranger Things, the movie has a odd effect. When it’s over you don’t want to make any noise. I watched it while my wife had to work over the weekend, and I put the DVD away as quietly as I could, and then went to bed. Awaking alone the next morning, I continued the vigil. Critics praised the movie for its silence, perhaps what we’re most afraid of in this noisy world.
I spend a lot of time saying nothing. Editing is a quiet job. Telecommuting is a quiet lifestyle. At Nashotah House we had mandatory quiet days, which, if they weren’t mandatory I would’ve loved. I’d seriously considered a monastic lifestyle when I was younger—there’s great value in being quiet. A horror film that teaches that lesson, despite many obviously unanswered questions, is worth paying attention to. Horror films have continued to grow more intelligent over the years. This one is rated PG-13 and will have you on the edge of your seat (or under the bed) anyway. And it’s got an important message. For those of us who don’t say much (maybe that’s why I write all the time) a movie like this acts, if you will, as a loudspeaker. Does anybody hear me?