A Quiet Place: Efficient Mom Horror

Cinematic Doctrine Christian Movie Podcast Reviews Emily Blunt John Krasinski A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place Podcast Transcript

A Quiet Place – Efficient Mom Horror

                Hi, my name’s Melvin, and Happy New Year!

                Welcome to Cinematic Doctrine, a Christian podcast service where we encourage and equip Christians to engage and reform the culture of cinema. In this episode, we’ll be talking about John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place.

                This movie was chosen by the lovely patrons who support Cinematic Doctrine with a small monthly donation. For as little as $3, you too can have the opportunity to vote for a movie I review at the end of each month by heading over to Cinematic Doctrine’s Patreon. A link will be available in the shownotes.

                Releasing early 2018, A Quiet Place was one of those horror experiences where everyone was racing to the theater. With a trailer like it had, it was a no brainer. Silent, ominous music over tense sequences was the perfect gift to any horror fan. In the art scene, fans were looking forward to a film that embraced its gimmick in an effective manor. To the horror scene, they were eager for something creative, yet simple. And to the general theater goer, who really only recognize John Krasinski from The Office, they were excited to check out a PG-13 horror film that was filled with jump-scares.

                It was the perfect storm, but not so much for movie theaters, as ticket sales may have been great, but concessions weren’t selling well. Nobody wanted to eat popcorn, one of the loudest foods on the planet, at a movie where you had to listen closely. And good luck sipping through a straw when your beverage is running low. People were complaining nonstop about concessions breaking the silence that movie-goers outright ignored concessions all-together.

                Interesting trivia aside, A Quiet Place was a hit, and it’s a no brainer my Patron supporters have chosen this film for my December movie review. What great timing, right? A Quiet Place two just had their teaser trailer drop.

                But, before my intro music runs out, why don’t we get this show on the road. Let me tell you what A Quiet Place is all about.

                A little over a year has passed since it all began. Otherworldly creatures have taken over, dominating the landscape and killing indiscriminately. But, for those who’ve survived, there’s one thing about these creatures they’ve learned to live with: They can’t see. However, what they lack in sight they make up for in sound, and anyone left wandering the primary must keep their steps vigilant, their voice quiet, and their actions subtle and soft.

                For the Abbott family much has changed, but most of all is that Evelyn Abbott, played by Emily Blunt, is pregnant. The joy of life is met with fear as the family prepares for their new addition. As any parent knows, children are anything but quiet, but humanity is resilient, and even under extreme circumstances, life finds a way. But how long can the Abbott family hold out amidst an indifferent world?

                A Quiet Place is Rated PG-13 for terror and some bloody images.

                This movie is a horror movie so it goes without saying that there will be both terror and bloody images. However, as for the terror, it really comes in simply the tense nature of the premise. I mean, don’t make noise. That’s simple in theory, but in practice it’s basically impossible. For instance, I type out scripts for my episodes of the podcast so I don’t get off track, because boy do I have a pension for tangents. And while I like to think I do it quietly, I use a mechanical keyboard so my typing is pretty loud, I have a jitter leg so my foot bounces and rocks shakes the desk, my chair, and whatever else is in my room, and my cat Milo meows constantly to get my attention so it is not quiet in my house at all when I think it is.

                Now, imagine I’m doing all of that but have to do it quietly to keep from being attacked by a monster. Now that’s freaky. So yeah, it’s a frightening film where you’re always on edge from the softest of noise. Anything they do can be a threat.

                However, despite the film being scary, the bloody images don’t happen at the same time as any of the killings. Usually, if a character is killed, the film jump-cuts to a reaction shot or something else. In other words, we don’t see any carnage. The bloody image has to do with a frightening sequence somewhere in the middle to latter-half of the film. It’s less-so-much graphic as it is more… uncomfortable. That’s about as much as I can say without spoiling the sequence. Any other sequence including bloody imagery is toward the end of the film.

                Also, the creatures themselves, something about their design kind of made me feel gross. And like, not a frightened kind of gross, more like when you see something in real life and it’s gross, so you feel gross. I think this reaction was unique to my rewatch because I didn’t feel the same way about them when I saw the film in theaters in 2018, so I don’t really know what to think about that, but if I can see them and feel a bit grossed out, then so could you, so here it is in the content warning.

Now, before we take a look at A Quiet Place, I wanted to share real quick that if you’ve come to enjoy Cinematic Doctrine and would like to support the show, be sure to leave a review on your respective podcast app at the end of this episode. And if you’re looking for more content, head on over to CinematicDoctrine.com and check out an episode of LikeFlintRadio I made a guest appearance on where we talked about George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and two of its film adaptions, both the Michael Radford film featuring John Hurt, as well as the 1953 BBC live TV adaption featuring Peter Cushing. Apart from that, you can also get connected with Cinematic Doctrine’s social media from the website, so be sure to check that out.

                Also, Cinematic Doctrine has a Patreon! For as little as $3 a month, you can join other patrons and vote on a movie I review once a month, as well as take joy in feeding my coffee addiction. Any amount is appreciated with multiple tiers to choose from, all of which go toward making Cinematic Doctrine the best podcast it can be!

                Look, I thought the trailer for A Quiet Place was great. Honestly, it’s the kind of trailer that did exactly what a trailer needs to do. Some trailers jam-pack sooooo much information into them, crazy lines of dialogue, brief snippits of action, and at some point they’re so bloated you’re tired by the end of their 2 and a half minute montage.

                But A Quite Place? It’s a perfect trailer. It tells you exactly what the movie’s going to be. You know it’s premise, to stay quiet, you know its gimmick, noise will kill you, and you know who stars and directs it, Jim Halpert from The Office.

                I already said it, but I’ll say it again: It’s just spot on. It covers all the bases. The art-scene was engaged, the horror scene was engaged, and general audiences couldn’t wait to reserve their tickets.

                I think I even remember seeing a movie sometime at the end of 2017 where the trailer played and everyone in the theater shushed each other so they could watch the trailer in silence, that’s how big a deal this was. And, like, I’ve seen some great trailers, most recently Godzilla: King of the Monster’s had one that I felt was super effective, or even the trailer for Good Time a few years back was captivating. But there wasn’t anything quite like A Quiet Place.

                And then the film came out and it was blowing people away. People who didn’t care for horror movies were going to see it. Families were catching it, friends were talking about it, and everyone was having a great time.

                With an estimated budget of 17 million dollars, A Quiet Place grossed a worldwide total of just under 341 million dollars. That’s absolutely bonkers, to say the least. But, A Quiet Place was bound to succeed no matter what. A simple, effective, and interesting high-concept with immense star-power behind it and a low budget? It would be successful no matter what, but I imagine nobody expected it to be quite so successful.

                Either way, it came and went, and here we are with a sequel coming out very soon.

                As for the movie, well, it’s an interesting one. A Quiet Place is a film I’ve felt rather conflicted about. It’s effective, not least of which in the way it captured the attention of so many movie-goers. It’s hard to get the general audiences out to see something other than the latest blockbuster release, and A Quiet Place isn’t really a blockbuster, it’s a low-budget, low-risk horror movie.

                But it’s effective in the way in which it not only captured a massive audience but captivated them. It stole the attention of so many individuals and demanded they watch it in a certain way, in total and complete silence.

                It’s almost like they were being dared to play the game, and rather than sit back and eat popcorn endlessly until the credits roll, everyone had to sit at the edge of their seat, breath as quietly as possible, and go for the ride that was A Quiet Place.

                And when your movie can demand people watch it in a certain, special kind of way, that’s pretty crazy! And that’s crazier when people go ahead and do it. Like, there’s something powerful about that, so I feel like the word effective captures A Quite Place at its core.

                And yet, I find all of this very interesting because during my rewatch for this episode of the podcast because, I wasn’t all that impressed, nor was I all that engaged. And when I would occasionally think on that initial watch experience, I thought to myself that this would happen, that I would find myself less interested in the movie for some reason.

                You see, that initial watch in theaters was really great. There’s something wonderful about audience participation that makes for a great movie-going experience, and I could feel myself invested solely on the basis that everyone else was invested. It’s neat to feel the tension in the room increase as everyone clenches their fists to the rising action. It was like a collective suffocation that had the same highs and lows from a tightened neck to a released one. It was a thrill ride, and when a film basically enters its third act halfway into its runtime, which is atypical to say the least, you make for a surprising experience.

                But I remember, very quickly, after exiting the theater that my wife said, “It was mehh.”

                And I think she was on to something. Because, yeah, it kind of was mehh. And I remember thinking back on A Quiet Place a few months after seeing the film and going, “Oh man, that happened? I barely remember that scene. And why did they do that? Also, if the waterfall was so loud, why didn’t they…?”

                And I kept rehearsing the film in my mind only to find it didn’t really work. And, like, I think the reality was that I knew these things when watching the movie, but the experience itself was so effective at captivating my attention, I couldn’t spend time thinking on its flaws.

                Because, like, okay something that’s important about horror are rules. And honestly, this isn’t something unique to horror, because Science Fiction or Fantasy stories need rules, too, but let’s focus on why horror needs rules.

                Basically, if you want to scare people, you need to build tension. And the thing about tension is that, once something breaks, the tension is gone. Picture it this way. The rules in a horror movie are like a stick. You can bend it really far, and the further you bend it, the more tension you create. The stick is stressed to a certain point, and if you push it to far, it breaks. Once you break it, you have less of a stick to bend, and so the tension is gone.

                And in the end, what’s scarier isn’t to break the stick, it’s to see how close you can bend it before it breaks. A good horror movie needs to have rules and play with them, bend them, and the best horror movies change you, like a stick that’s been bent so much it loses its original shape. And a horror story needs to do this because it builds tension, it stresses an audience, keeps their mind working. The rules help to focus a viewer on how they should be thinking, acting, or what to expect from the film, and the act of bending those rules, but not breaking them, builds tension.

                And the thing about rules is that, in a way, they inform the audience on what to expect without telling them what’s going to happen. And this is something you got immediately from the trailer for A Quiet Place. What’s the rule? Don’t make noise or you’ll die. Okay, got it. That’s great.

                You can already start to understand how this rule will be bent. The trailer even shows this as a character knocks over a lamp. In doing so, a large noise is made, and everyone goes still. Because you know the rule is that if you make noise a creature could find you and kill you.

                However, once the film starts, the problems start to crop up. the fact that certain characters make noise and no creature comes after them, or other characters aren’t making noise at all and yet a creature is nearby investigating them. Or, if the rule is to not make noise, why someone or something that isn’t making noise is targeted. Or, if someone could drown out noise by creating a white-noise, why you wouldn’t use the act of a white-noise to mask even the most basic of sounds like the tapping of shoes or cooking of meals or whispering.

                And yet, if you watch A Quiet Place, you’ll find the rule of “If you make noise, you’ll be killed by a creature” is never consistent. It’s constantly changing, and that’s without taking apart other forms of logic. Like, a scene where a character gets clothing caught by a nail, but it’s a nail you would easily see if you lived there for a long time. And apart from already going, “Who would hammer a nail in that direction?” You would have likely seen the nail before hand and removed it.

                But, do any common criticisms of A Quiet Place matter? Like, everyone was invested in the film when it came out, people were seeing it multiple times, and I even said, my initial experience with the film was great, then quickly soured afterward.

                At the end of the day, no, I don’t think it matters. I don’t think it matters that this film has some really strange editing choices that assault you in the opening sequence. I don’t think it matters that every actor basically has the same expression the entire movie. I don’t think it matters that the CGI looks incomplete at times. I don’t think it matters that characters are written poorly and make stupid decisions sometime. Like, I could go on about how certain bad qualities of this film don’t matter because, sometimes, movies aren’t about making the best work, or the most logical work, but the most efficient and effective work you can.

                And, like, I’m not saying he had a huge part in the making of this film, but Michael Bay was a producer for A Quiet Place and he’s basically the king of making efficient and effective movies that are absolute train wrecks.

                That’s not to say A Quiet Place is a train wreck. It’s not. But, for me, it didn’t age well, and the movie came out a year and a half prior to this episode so I’m just not sure what to think about that, is all. Like, that’s a really quick process for a film to go from, “Hey, that was pretty great!” to, “Yikes, I don’t know how that got me so well.”

                Now, let’s talk about something that really matters. Let’s talk about how A Quiet Place is basically mom-horror. Now that’s a different way to describe a movie, isn’t it?

If you haven’t heard a movie described in this way, let me explain: Basically, these would be horror movies you know your mom would watch, enjoy, and completely understand. What does that mean, exactly? I’m not quite sure, but you know a mom horror when you see it, and usually it has to do with a mother experiencing a hyperbolized struggle or trauma. Basically, it’s a category I made up, but it makes total sense.

                Other films would include The Babadook or Bird Box, and I actually spent some time compiling a list of mom-horror films on Letterboxd and made it nice and easy for you to reference, so I’ll leave a link in the shownotes for anyone looking to introduce their moms to some good-ol’ horror movies!

                But, this recent influx of horror movies that seem to be perfectly suited for mom’s is really interesting to me. It’s almost like some sort of market wasn’t being reached which is such strange thing to say out loud. To think there was some sort of unknown market of mothers who want to see horror movies primarily written in a way they can connect with, like, that’s really bizarre, isn’t it? Mom’s want to see their fears personified or hyperbolized.

                I think this is such an outlandish thread to be talking about, I really can’t speak into it much because I have no background for it. I’m some 24-year-old dude who isn’t a parent yet, and I’ll literally never have the experience of a mother, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find this fascinating.

                But I’ll let that thread end there because it’s just too weird. Look, one of the main complicating incidents for A Quiet Place is a mother closing in on her due date, so it’s mom horror. It’s that simple.

Thanks so much for tuning in to this episode of Cinematic Doctrine, if you’ve seen A Quiet Place, what did you think of it? Did you catch it in theaters and love it, or do you think it’s mostly hype? If you’re listening on Cinematic Doctrine’s website, let me know in the comments below, or shoot me an email to cinematicdoctrine@gmail.com.

If you’re on Letterboxd, I have a list compiling every movie I’ve reviewed on Cinematic Doctrine with direct links to those episodes, so be sure to check that out, and consider following me on Letterboxd for quick, bite-sized reviews on every movie I watch!

                If you’d like to support the show, jump on over to Cinematic Doctrine’s Facebook Page and be sure to follow for updates on episodes, movie news, and my usual shenanigans. From there, you can also get connected with the Cinematic Doctrine Facebook Group and join the conversation! You can also support the show by leaving a review for Cinematic Doctrine on your respective podcast app.

                And, if that’s not enough, head on over to Cinematic Doctrine’s Patreon! For as little as $3 a month, you can join other patrons and vote on a movie I review once a month, as well as take joy in feeding my coffee addiction. In fact, this was one such movie, so thank you very much to my fellow patrons! And remember, any amount is appreciated with multiple tiers to choose from. All of it will go toward making Cinematic Doctrine the best podcast it can be!

                A special shout-out to those who support at the Art House Theater tier! Thank you so much Mom and Dad! You’re the best!

All of this will be available in the shownotes.

Until next time, stay cool!

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Melvin Benson Cinematic Doctrine Christian Movie Podcast Host

Melvin Benson is the Founder, Editor-In-Chief, and Lead Host of Cinematic Doctrine. He’s written fiction and nonfiction for over a decade with short stories featured on the Creepypasta Wiki and Wattpad. His novelette Ethereal Temptation, a teen drama with a tinge of magical-realism, can be read for free here. His hope is to see King Jesus glorified as far as the east is from the west!

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