I am not a fan of horror films. Not for the aspect of horror itself or those that fall within that genre, but the inevitable jumpscares that are to occur at any point during a film. I hate, with every minimal fiber of my existence, jumpscares.
When choosing a film to review for this week, all signs pointed to a film I’ve had my eye on ever since I saw the trailer for it some months ago: A Quiet Place. The feedback from audiences and critics alike has been overwhelmingly positive; it’s toted as a revolutionary use of sound techniques, and it was a hit at the box office in its first weekend, grossing over $50 million.
The only drawback to this is, as mentioned before, my eternal and unquestioned dismay for jumpscares, and for a movie whose premise is devoted to being as quiet as possible while also within the horror genre, I expected about five of them every minute or so.
I came out of it relatively unscathed.
This isn’t really an indictment on the film as a “scary” piece, but more of a surprising twist of fate where there ended up being not as many jumpscares as my imaginative mind would have assumed there to be.
Rather, the scary bits all ruminate within long, slow-building scenes of holding one’s breath to not alert the presence of the sound-hunting creatures of the film. This tension is perhaps the only thing about the film that made it in any way a “scary” film, as a “horror” film, I would argue, does not necessitate fear as much as empathy or abject shock (or disgust).
Before getting into an argument about what exactly makes A Quiet Place a scary film, a horror film, or whatever else, allow me to get back on track and discuss the quality of the film as a whole.
It’s really dumb.
Now bear with me as I try to formulate this in a way where it doesn’t sound like I’m openly mocking the film. I use the term “dumb” because it is dumb. The logic of the film does not make any sense, and when it tries to make sense, through rules it has set on its own, it constantly contradicts itself to further instill fear and keep the plot going. Another term could be “bad,” but to say a film is simply “bad” ignores the merits of every different perspective one could see the film through for the first, second, or umpteenth time.
My interpretation of A Quiet Place was a logical one, where I found the creatures to be more or less scary based on how easily they can take advantage of their situation or how difficult it is for the humans to escape them. With the logic coming into question, it becomes harder to take the film seriously, as while the human characters decide to do one thing, an audience member could think and go, “Well, couldn’t they have just done that? I don’t see how that wouldn’t have been better.” Many instances of this occur within the film that make it hard to really feel scared in the presence of these monsters—unfortunately, going too into detail would essentially spoil the entire film.
The biggest issue with this is that this film does very little else with its premise. A semblance of family brokenness through living in a soundless world and past mistakes looming over the heads of few are touched upon lightly, but not nearly enough to make them worthwhile by the end, especially when a certain scene could’ve been retconned if the script followed the rules it set for the creatures.
Thus, all I can really do is think upon this film logically, as there was nothing else about it that impressed me enough to not think about it logically. And when thinking about it logically, it makes absolutely no sense. Characters intentionally act stupid to expand the horror and creatures go against what was set by the film’s tone about their powers and intellectual capabilities.
It may not be fair to judge the film entirely by its logic, but when it goes so far to set the rules surrounding the creatures just to have it break those rules at every turn, it’s hard not to judge it accordingly. If this were a coding process, this film would crash immediately, because the logic does not add up.
Sometimes, you have to go with your gut. The emotional frustration and rage that built within me after seeing this film is reason enough for me to rate the film as low as I’m about to.
Final Score: 2/10