WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for director John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place, in theaters now.
A Quiet Place is getting a fair amount of well deserved buzz, even outside of the traditional horror fan circles. Between its inventive, soundless premise and its creative and representational use of sign language, it's a movie that is doing a lot of very new things correctly -- and it's doing them in a way that doesn't feel condescending or too over the top, despite the fact it's absolutely a movie about mysterious carnivorous monsters.
But one of the strongest things about A Quiet Place as a whole isn't how clever the premise is; it's how completely, believable, sometimes fatally human its cast of survivors actually is. This is a family of people who are, without a doubt, both the smartest and dumbest people to live through a monster apocalypse -- and that's what makes them work so well.
The movie's biggest conceit is the idea that this family -- made up of a father, a pregnant mother, and two young children -- has actually been surviving in near-silence for just under two years. In that time, they've naturally been forced to adapt their lifestyle to fit a world where nothing can make noise, and for the most part, they've done a pretty good job of it. Some of their innovations are obvious: No one wears shoes, they've forgone plates and silverware in favor of their hands and lettuce leaves, laundry is washed slowly and by hand. Some of them are less so: Non-creaky floor boards have been marked, they use sand to mark paths and absorb sound, they've created a silent alarm system made out of different colored lights. It's all very smart, no matter how obvious it may seem, and shows a ton of consideration on part of the world building and character development.
Even the idea of including children shows just how far A Quiet Place is willing to go to drive home its core concept. These are kids who have to learn, essentially from the get go, just how to survive in a world where they can't do any of the things we'd normally associate with childhood. There's no running or playing, no loud video games, no television, no music or parties or get-togethers. Instead, they're homeschooled in silence, left to play with board games where all the pieces have been replaced by soft, soundless cotton. It's a beautifully rendered shorthand to insure to us, as an audience, that this is a family that is trying. They're trying as hard as they possibly can to make it through this new, horrifying world, and they're making the sacrifices they have to in order to do it.
That said, for all the family's cleverness, there are also some truly head scratching lapses in their logic. The central theme of parenthood is highlighted by Emily Blunt's pregnancy, something that's even more loaded after -- spoilers -- their very young son was murdered less than a hundred days into the apocalyptic fiasco. It's never made clear whether Blunt's character's pregnancy was intentional or not, but either way, the fact that it happened in the first place shows a truly baffling level of carelessness for a family that's otherwise so meticulous. Why would anyone in their right mind bring a child into a world where sound is an actual, literal, no questions asked death sentence?
All the preparation in the world wasn't going to keep that from going south.
On top of that, there's the added layer of weapons and security. Considering how well crafted and clever the family's farmhouse is, the fact that more care and attention wasn't put into building out a sustainable underground area to better muffle the sound after over a year of living seems downright strange. Obviously, the key to survival here isn't to become mole people, but an area with more care put into soundproof rooms -- or at least, the start of soundproof rooms -- would not have felt out of place.
Still, it's comforting to see a group of survivors in a horror movie really only make mistakes that seem blatant from the outside looking in. It's pretty clear that this wasn't a group of survivalists prior to the monster invasion, and if anything, the mother and father have been frantically trying to make things up as they go. They're smart and that alone makes them stand tall over their peers who occupy their genre pantheon -- but they're also just people, and, man, people can be so dumb sometimes.