“A Quiet Place” offers both heart and horror

Warning: Spoilers Included

Grace Kowal

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Many of us know John Krasinski as Jim from “The Office,” but in his new movie, “A Quiet Place,” he takes on a very different role. As the father of three children in an apocalyptic world, he is the leader of a modern, relatable family trying to survive when making sound is equated with death. This is due to the seemingly omnipresent blind spider-monsters that attack any source of sound. Their attack is swift, gory, and always fatal. With dramatic music and even more dramatic silence, “A Quiet Place” is quick to keep viewer’s eyes glued to the screen no matter how much they want to tear them away.

As the plot developed, I could feel my heart maintaining an unhealthily quick beat. Even in the few rare moments of reprieve, scenes where characters could catch a breath and smile, the apprehension remained. This undertone of constant fear is a staple objective in a horror movie which the director met and surpassed. When I walked out of Mazza Gallery, the tremor in my hand that normally only presents itself during a test or presentation wouldn’t go away.

One major striation of the plot’s levels was the eldest daughter of the family, played by Millicent Simmons, who has profound hearing loss (90-100% deaf). She, like me, used cochlear implants (which have the same purpose as hearing aids but are more extreme), but at some point after the first 100 days of spider-monster-terror-silence, they broke. This rendered her vulnerable, but she seemed to learn how to be quiet without hearing herself. Here is one point I thought needed explaining— when I don’t have my cochlear implants on, I have no idea how loud I’m being. Despite this, she becomes a hero in the movie as her devices turn out to create feedback that is the spider-monster’s kryptonite. This semi-cliche solution to the terror meant more than what one may think.

The basic notion that the devices which I perceive to be a weakness are ultimately a critical strength goes a long way to all those who feel lessened by their disability. But on an even deeper level, by choosing to use a broken cochlear implant as the biggest plot twist in the movie, creators John Krasinski and Bryan Woods tie in a discussion about what truly defines disability and ability into their horror film. This integration of modern topics into pop culture movies is an attempt made often, but rarely done so genuinely well as in “A Quiet Place”.

Because viewers never learned the daughter’s name, she became more relatable to me. I am a daughter, a sister, and I am deaf. Because of these identities I hold, the trauma and conflicts she went through made me feel truly invested in her character. I felt that what her father did for her, mine would do for me as well, and it made me sob like a baby when he made his ultimate sacrifice. I’m sure a similar sentiment is held by the fathers, sons, wives, mothers, and brothers watching “A Quiet Place.” For this reason, the family’s struggles touch viewers in a personal way that allows the horror to make its full impact. Despite a few plot holes and cliche moments, “A Quiet Place” is a must-see.