A Quiet place: 10 Ways the Movie Could Have Been More Suspenseful | English Columnists Shelby Kim & Erin Lee
Pictures taken by: Shelby & Erin
If they hear you, they hunt you.
Directed by John Krasinski, A Quiet Place is a thriller about a family who must live in silent terror in order to hide from deadly creatures with hypersensitive hearing. It stars the director John Krasinski himself as the male lead character, along with Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe. They struggle to keep their children alive after an apocalypse plagues their world, in which the only way to survive is to not make a sound.
A Quiet Place currently stands as number one at the box office, beating other popular recently released films such as I Feel Pretty and Rampage. It is unique in that it engages the audience with pure silence with silent cinema. The suspense builds on as the movie progresses, and every single member in the audience is fighting the monsters together with the characters. Shelby and Erin watched the movie together on a Friday night after finishing their final round of midterms, and during the entire 90 minutes, we were captivated. We could not get our minds off of the “what ifs” and the “whys” of the movie -- they kept us thinking about the family dynamics, themes, and emotions portrayed in the film that could have strengthened the suspense.
So here are 10 things that we thought would have made A Quiet Place even more suspenseful.
*Please note that this article contains spoilers.
1. No. Dialogue. At. All.
In the movie, most of the scenes lack dialogue. The actors convey their emotions through sign language, sounds and facial gestures. The only scene in the film that has dialogue is when Lee and Marcus go to the waterfall to catch fish in the rivers and they are able to talk to each other, protected by the constant sound of the waterfall. One way we thought A Quiet Place would have been even more suspenseful for the audience was if there was no dialogue at all and the film was absolutely silent. This would have caused more anxiety in the scenes involving creatures and the family protecting each other in the silence to stay alive.
2. More children, more problems.
One thing that irked us greatly was the way 3 children acted in the movie. The movie begins with the death of the youngest child, who makes a loud beeping noise with his toy rocket, which alerts the attention of the monster who comes running to kill him in a matter of seconds. The second child is very wary of monsters, and his passive actions bring a lot of danger to the family. He first knocks down a lamp while playing Monopoly, attracting nearby monsters, and then endangers himself in the tower, after which his sister jumps into the center to save him. The boys’ premature actions leaves their parents distressed and endangered, eventually killing the father. Later, the birth of the baby causes even more problems, and almost kills the entire family. One way the filmmaker could have made the film more suspenseful would have been by utilizing children to save themselves without their parents’ help. It seemed like many times the children were unaware of the urgency of the apocalypse because their parents were always there to help.
3. Better booby traps for the monsters.
When Lee and Marcus leave to find food for the family, Evelyn is on the verge of having a baby and causes sounds loud enough for the creatures to hear and hunt her in the house. However, Lee prepared the entire household for this type of emergency and Evelyn was able to notify the rest of the family by turning on the red lights. In turn, Lee hurried to save his wife from danger. One thing that would have made this scene more eventful was if the red lights had a malfunction and Evelyn had to save herself from danger while the rest of the family was trying to fend off the creatures in other areas.
4. Your inventions don’t work, dad.
Regan, the eldest daughter, is hearing-impaired. Her disability is portrayed in several different ways throughout the movie, first with the sign language communication, and then through Lee’s inventions in the basement. Lee spends countless of hours at night trying to make the perfect instrument to help Regan recognize when creatures are nearby, but fails time after time. His last invention, finally does work, and she is able to use it to fend off the creatures towards the last quarter of the film. However, it was hard to recognize her disability since there is barely any dialogue in the film to begin with--as a result, having a clear notion of her hearing impairment before the plot unraveled would have highlighted her weakness in silence against the creatures.
5. More engagement with other families.
The only characters in the film are the members of the Abbott family, and we do not see any scenes of them communicating or interacting with other families or survivors. Thus, the audience sees the world only through their lens. We felt that any scenes to illustrate the urgency of the situation with any mention of deaths and struggles in other families would have added to the thrill of staying alive by keeping silent. With these encounters, the audience would have had a better understanding of some common methods survivors used to stay alive and some strategies that paved the way for death.
6. A clear explanation for why they had a baby
When we realized the mother was pregnant, we couldn’t help but keep wondering: what were they thinking? Noise equals death where they live. Everyone knows that babies cry, both during and after birth. It is also extremely difficult for the mother to keep quiet while going through the physical pain of giving birth. Why, then, did they choose to have another baby, when they were already having such a hard time helping themselves and their two existing children survive? Clearly showing a reason for this somewhere would have made us less skeptical and helped us focus our complete attention on other important parts of the plot.
7. What about natural bodily functions?
The scariest stories are the relatable ones. As humans, we make sounds in our daily lives much more often than we realize. Even if we keep ourselves talking or screaming like the characters in the film, our body makes so many other noises that we can’t control. Given how sensitive the ears of these monsters are, they would have surely reacted to such sounds. If the movie showed what would happen when the characters accidentally coughed or when their stomachs growled, the plot would have been a lot more relatable to us humans and thus more suspenseful.
8. More Plot Twists: Maybe the waterfall?
During the movie, the father takes his son to a waterfall and explains that when there is something making a larger sound next to them like the waterfall, the sounds they make with their voices are masked and not heard by the monsters. If so, why didn’t the family think of living near or under the waterfall, even just until the mother gave birth to the baby which they probably knew was going to make a lot of noise? Adding scenes in which the father carefully moves supplies and works to build a shelter under the waterfall as silently as possible would have made an interesting, suspenseful twist in the plot.
9. Something the audience wouldn’t have expected
When the camera zooms into a large nail sticking upwards on the staircase, we all guess that one of the family members living in the house will eventually step on it. The image of the nail stays on our minds as we wait for someone to step on it, and we soon find out that we were right when the mother does so. As painful and sickening as this scene was, we all knew that it was coming. Yet the nail stays stuck up on the staircase. How does no one else step on it? The movie could have really surprised the audience to a much greater level if another one of the characters stepped on the nail again, much later when the audience has likely forgotten about the nail and is focused on other events of the plot.
We thought it was a little illogical that the monsters could immediately hear and accurately locate the quietest sounds within the house from miles away, but couldn’t recognize the characters’ heavy breathing and footsteps when they were in the same room with them. Making the hearing abilities of the monster more consistent throughout the entire movie would have made more sense to the audience.
A Quiet Place was unlike other horror films or thrillers. The idea of a silent cinema was quite new, the subject matter was intriguing, and the acting was extraordinary. Yet we both felt that the movie was not as “scary” as we had expected it to be, possibly due to the plot holes that we couldn’t help but notice. Although we aren’t experts ourselves, incorporating some of the suggestions above could have made A Quiet Place a much more suspenseful, frightening thriller.
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