A Quiet Strength in A Quiet Place

It was nice to be back in a theater again getting to see a movie which I was planning to see on my birthday back in March of 2020 before everything decided to hit the fan. There was something special getting to see it with friends who have helped, in their own particular ways, keep each other sane during this past year. Things seem to be slowly coming back to normal, and as they do, I find myself increasingly thankful for the people who demonstrate that even the most abnormal seasons are worthwhile.

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It did not take John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place” long to find good reception among an assortment of different audiences. While it markets itself as a horror film, many have found that it does not quite check that box. It is an apocalyptic family film which somehow manages to be both wholesome and frightening in equal parts. And while the modern, apocalyptic genre often reeks of nihilism, A Quiet Place concerns itself with an unsuspecting and upside-down virtue of quiet self-sacrificial strength.

Regan, the family’s daughter played by Millicent Simmonds, is deaf in a world where making any noise may result in almost instant death by quadrupedal creatures who hunt with their super-sensitive hearing. Her father, Lee (John Krasinski), is driven to helping her regain her sense of hearing but who ultimately fails to do so—but not without helping provide the tool necessary to expose the ultimate weakness of the predators who have sent them into a life of quiet terror.

One might suspect in a world falling apart that the way to survive is the way of brute force, yet what we find in this movie’s moral fabric is that one’s weaknesses may in fact be a conduit for strength and that survival for survival’s sake is ultimately a dead-end. Like in Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”, the question is posed: what is the point of surviving if there are not still some of us who “carry the fire”? Apocalypse may mean, in a classical sense, an unveiling, but in this film what is unveiled is the surprising moral fortitude of each member of the Abbott family.

Some have commented about the strikingly “pro-living” message of the film in that a baby is joyfully conceived in a world in which having a loud, screaming baby might very well be a death-sentence. It costs each member of this family something to care for this child, but it is a task each one takes up hopefully and in earnest. To have a child in a world seemingly falling apart requires its own quiet strength. And to lay down one’s life in the ordinary routine of life often suggests that one may just be willing to lay down one’s own life even unto death.

A Quiet Place Part 2—while I will try to keep this as spoiler free as possible—takes up exactly where the first film leaves off. The family attempts to survive with one less member but who are still as animated by the virtues of love and self-sacrifice that their father sought to embody. Each bears an even greater load with the loss, and a new character, Emmett (Cilian Murphy), is introduced. Emmett is broken by his own set of losses and has given in to the sort of cynicism and despair one might naturally conclude is only sensible in such a world as theirs. Interestingly, it is Regan and Emmett who make the sequel as emotionally resonant as the first film.

The silent strength of the family (but particularly Regan) has an almost infectious effect on Emmett who in his own isolation of self-survival is reminded that there are indeed people still worth saving even at tremendous risk to himself. The virtue of self-sacrifice is not exclusive to family, but perhaps is demonstrated even more profoundly in a bond without such innately expected loyalty.

The quiet strength of this family is slowly but surely cultivated, and in the film’s fitting conclusion, the hope of this virtue, the fruit of this faithful family, is shown to be boldly carried forth. I hope I don’t give away too much when I say that Lee would certainly be proud.

A Quiet Place Part 2 proves itself to be a worthy sequel. It does what any good sequel should do: it complements and helps reach conclusions of the first film without betraying the moral, logical, or emotional consistency of the original. While I am not entirely convinced there is room for a Part 3, I would be lying if I told you I wouldn’t still be excited for it.

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