Nerd Factor: Quite an Unquiet Place

Dr Mike Robinson, UL Communication Studies Professor~

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Back in March, A Quiet Place was a surprise hit.  The film all about silence got people talking and that good word of mouth led the movie to much deserved success.  I’ve waited a bit to talk about the movie, but not just because I didn’t see it until it came out on DVD and not just because I wanted to create some spoiler space.  I wanted to hold my comments until this exact time of year to prove that there is simply no way that anyone could have lived for over a year in that scenario.

For the uniformed few who have not yet heard the premise of the movie, the film takes place after an undefined event.  Strange bipedal creatures have ruthlessly hunted humanity to the edge of extinction. The movie is chillingly unclear about why these creatures exist.  I imagined that they had extraterrestrial origins, perhaps sent to cull life from the surface, but there is no clear answer in the film. Given their visual design, they could have easily walked out of the latest game of Doom.  

Although functionally blind, the monsters have an advantage in that they can detect sounds from great distances away.  In that way, they share a certain kinship with a number of horror genre faves, going at least as far back as the titular carnivorous and mobile plants in the classic novel Day of the Triffids (1951).  These creatures, however, possess greater auditory capabilities than their frightful forefathers.  As the movies opening sequence ruthlessly demonstrates, the slightest of sounds can bring these hunters.

In essence, the slightest mistake means death.  This is true of many horror films. Instead of a centering on a group of careless teens stopping to have sex and drink beer/smoke weed in the midst of some machete wielding slasher’s revenge on a summer camp, A Quite Place rather cleverly focuses on the Abbotts, a reasonably clever and fairly likeable (if contraception-oblivious) family struggling against all odds to survive.

My favorite horror movies have this kind of formula.  I like the puzzle of survival. In the back of my mind I wondered if my family could survive in similar circumstances.  Probably not, since my son’s response to any reminder about silence would likely be a loud “WHAT???”

Now maybe the Abbotts are smarter than we are.  Again, they’re really knuckleaded about family planning in apocalyptic scenarios, but otherwise pretty smart about survivalist planning and scientific thinking.  They seemed to have solved a lot of problems, even if it’s unclear how they got all this soft sand to walk around on trails. I also wondered how they survived with all that corn in their diet, but maybe unlike the way most people just seem to borrow corn temporarily rather than digest it, the Abbotts have less troubles with… uhm… sudden and unexpected release of internal methane.

Given all that, I just don’t think they could make it through the Autumn.  For example, the family would have to contend with my seasonal archenemies, the leaves.  As you walk around sloshing through them or just hear them blowing around, figure that sound just spelled your doom.  

But what would more likely kill them and frankly all of us, are seasonal colds and allergies.  As you go about your day, just listen. How many people do you hear coughing? Because I hear a lot and my ears are full of allergy junk.  I suspect those monsters would find any of us really fast the next time somebody just barked, let alone hacked up a lung.