An excerpt from my Feminist Flicker column, on the movie A Quiet Place – a post-apocalyptic tale of a family which must remain silent, lest they be slaughtered by terrifying creatures:
“…What sets A Quiet Place apart from most other horror films, though, is its treatment of its female characters. Traditionally, entries in this genre reduce women to either damsels in distress, or body parts – most often focused on the female reproductive system. While pregnancy and childbirth do feature prominently in the movie, it is not the source of the horror. We do not see Evelyn give birth. We see her struggle to stay quiet, and we feel her pain and fear, but she remains fully clothed, and the camera remains trained on her face for the most part.
That’s because the film is about parenthood, not the dissection and reduction of women. Likewise, the baby is not regarded as a negative. Oftentimes, in male-made horror surrounding birth on film, the baby is depicted as monstrous in some way – arguably suggesting that a male attitude to birth can involve the baby being some kind of intruder, which, in turn, belies the sense of entitlement men have toward women and their bodies. Not so with A Quiet Place. This family has geared everything toward ensuring that the baby arrives safely, and can engage in natural ‘baby behaviours’ without being killed.
And, it is that fact which brings us to the final, overall thrust of this narrative. Yes, A Quiet Place is about parents doing anything for their children – but along with that, it is about perceived oppression, and limits on lives. Many viewers have been heard to comment that there are glaring plot-holes in A Quiet Place. For example, if the river and waterfall mask sound, why not live there? Why would it take so long to figure out that radio feedback and white noise is the aliens’ weakness? These are all astute observations, but work on the assumption that the viewer and the characters in the film have the same thought processes, and capacity for logic and reason.
This family lives out their lives under circumstances that they have surmised from media reports, and their personal experiences in a sparsely populated, rural hometown. Once the solution presents itself, it seems simple and obvious – but perhaps that’s the point. Lee’s board states that they have counted only three alien predators in the area, but because of the ferocity and speed with which these creatures respond to any noise, the family has assumed an oppressed way of life – changing everything to accommodate the whim of their oppressors. They literally daren’t speak up, and this is how they raise their two remaining children.
But, when the baby arrives, the determination to protect the next generation is reinvigorated, and Regan and Evelyn are inspired by the sacrifice of Lee to turn on their oppressors, and essentially, reclaim their right to raise their voices. In the end, they dispatch the first alien relatively efficiently, and we see the other two running toward the farmhouse on Lee’s CCTV monitors, as Regan and Evelyn prepare to take them out, too. They’ve had enough of being quiet…”
Read the rest at: https://channillo.com/series/feminist-flicker-decoding-sexism-in-movies/567-24599/
Great job bringing some thematic urgency to “A Quiet Place!” I enjoyed the film, but no where near as much as its reputation would suggest. Compared to something like a “It Comes at Night,” I didn’t feel like “A Quiet Place” really capitalized, thematically speaking, on its unique context. I’ll have to give it another watch with your perspective in mind!