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Guest Review: Dr Dan's "A Quiet Place"

Rating: C-  This is really a bad film.  It looks pretty good, and there are some scares and a level of suspense, but there are too many flaws to recommend it.

Recommendation: Avoid this film if you’ve had more than a 3rd grade education.

Having missed John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place” when it was in the theaters, I finally decided to sit down and watch it through my favorite streaming service.  The premise of a post-apocalyptic world haunted by alien monsters that hunt by sound was intriguing. The production values looked good. It had a talented cast.  What could go wrong?

Wow, what a stupid film.  Let me start by stating one of the cardinal rules that I feel any movie needs to follow.  It needs to stay within the logic of the world it creates. This doesn’t mean that it has to follow the rules of our world.  I have no problem suspending disbelief and accepting that Thor has a magical hammer that only the worthy can lift. As long as the film sticks to the rules it sets down, I’m OK.

"A Quiet Place" is set in our world, as far as I can tell.  Well, it’s in our world if our world was overrun by aliens.  As such, the film needs to work by the rules of our world. Nope.  No luck with that. If the plot needed something to happen, who cares about that pesky “reality”?  These violations occurred so many times, I’ve decided to list the ones that I can think of, to get them out of my system.  Oh yeah, spoilers a-plenty here.

The aliens.  Given that we are only introduced to one type of alien in this film, we have to assume that they are the only ones who arrived here.  The aliens are blind, but they have incredible hearing. The plot of the film hangs on this. While they are ferocious killers, they are reasonably clumsy in tight spaces.  They are never seen using any type of technology. So my first problem: how did they develop the technology for interstellar flight without the sense of sight and with hands that can’t even hold a hammer?

The farm.  The main part of the film happens about a year and a half (400+ days) after the invasion.  The family lives on a farm with about 10 acres of nicely planted corn and a grain silo about half full of corn from the previous harvest.  How did they plow the fields and plant all that corn without noise-making machinery? Why would they plant so much for 4 people? With a grain silo filled with more corn than they could possibly eat (assuming it was fit for humans), why would they bother growing more?

The nail.  At one point in the film, a nail on the stairs gets bent such that it points upwards, ready to be stepped on.  This is important because everyone walks around barefoot to avoid making noise. Places in the house where it is safe to walk without making noise from creaky boards are painted as guides.  This nail in on one of those painted spaces. Thus, they’ve been stepping barefoot on the nail (bent down flat) for the year or so they’ve lived in the house. Wouldn’t that have been uncomfortable?  I think they would have removed the nail before this.

Big sounds.  At another point, the son sets off a large set of fireworks into the sky at one end of the farm to lure the alien out of the house and away from the mother, who happens to be giving birth.  This works. The alien leaves the house. All is well, for a bit. At the end of the film, the mother fires a single shotgun blast at the alien in the basement of the house. This single, muffled shotgun blast is enough to call all the aliens for miles around and send them running toward the house, but the fireworks didn’t attract them at all.

Deus ex Cochlear Implant.  The device that saves them in the end is the daughter’s cochlear implant that the father has tried to fix.  It doesn’t work for her, but it emits a high-pitched sound that hurts and repels the aliens. It’s a fun bit in the film, except for the fact that cochlear implants don’t work that way.  They don’t have any kind of speaker that would emit a sound. They transmit information about the sounds they hear using radio waves from the external pad to the sensor implanted under the person’s skin.  So the cochlear implant doesn’t make any noise. Also, given that it was established that it doesn’t even work, why does she bother to wear it and leave it turned on?

The basement.  Early in the film, the father prohibits the daughter from going into the basement of the house.  It’s implied that she’s forbidden to go there, and has always been forbidden. At the end of the film, she finally is able to go to the basement.  She expresses amazement at the surveillance system that the father has set up there. This is also a chance to show the workbench where the father has been working for a long time to fix her cochlear implant, letting her know that he loved her all the time.  Later, when the alien comes down into the basement, and she figures out that the cochlear implant hurts the aliens, she takes the cochlear implant and puts it up to the microphone of the radio and blasts the sound through the room. Somehow, even though she’s never been in this room, she knows exactly which of the 100 knobs to turn to turn up the volume to 11.

That radio.  My father was an amateur radio hobbyist, a Ham.  So I grew up around radios. The microphone on a radio isn’t hooked up to any speaker.  There’s a meter to let you know that you are broadcasting a strong enough signal. If your voice was played back into the room by a speaker, you would get terrible feedback.  So you don’t do that. If you live in a world where monsters would be called by that feedback, you would certainly not do that. Why did that radio have the microphone connected to the speakers.  Oh, yeah. The plot needed it to.

The toy.  This is a minor one, but I’m on a roll.  The movie starts with the death of their youngest son because he turned on a noisy electric toy out in the open.  This attracted an alien. The toy was found in a store with the batteries already in it. Seriously, when is the last time you bought a toy that came with the batteries?  And if it did, they were shrink wrapped and taped to the box. But, the plot needed him to turn on the toy.

The aliens, again.  In the end, the alien is taken out by a shotgun blast to the head.  We are supposed to believe that all the militaries in the world never thought to ring a bell, call the aliens, and shoot them in the head?  I think the military even has weapons more powerful than shotguns.

OK.  At this point I’ve written more text in this review than the five (!) writers credited with writing this mess of a film put in the entire script.  This was a very disappointing film to watch. I had high hopes given the relatively good ratings it received. The acting was good. The creature design was interesting.  I enjoyed the cinematography. It’s really a pity that the script was so terribly flawed. I wish I had used those two hours in a different quiet place reading a good book.

"A Quiet Place" trailer:

EDITOR NOTES: "A Quiet Place Part II" opens March 20, 2020. Apparently. The internet has several different release dates listed for this movie. Maybe we can get Dr. Dan to go see it in the theater and write a review.

The trailer for "A Quiet Place Part II"

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