A Quiet Place is a excellently written, excellently acted, excellently directed suspense thriller about a father and mother — Lee and Evelyn Abbott — struggling to protect their children in the aftermath of an invasion by carnivorous aliens who hunt by sound, while also healing from a deeply personal tragedy of their own. That much, you can get from any of the movie trailers. What you might not get from movie trailers is that this is also a tremendous film about the sanctity of family, the sacredness of life, the power of sacrifice, and the virtue of living out our faith even when the world is stacked against us.
The movie is not as scary as you might expect — but no less thrilling either. Yes, there are monsters in the film. Yes, people are killed by monsters. But the movie could be described more as suspense than horror. There are plenty of jump scares, plenty of “edge of seat” moments of peril and danger. There’s some excruciating moments where you want to cringe, scream, and warn the characters. It’s not a movie I would show to a seven year old prone to nightmares. But it’s a movie that’s perfectly acceptable for anyone who can stomach Jurassic Park — and much less gory, too.
The Family Proclamation vs. Man-eating aliens
Alright, I just really wanted to include that header. But seriously, a really fun exercise is to read the Proclamation on the Family before and/or after watching A Quiet Place. Like the Proclamation, the movie assumes “the sanctity of life,” treats children as an “heritage of the Lord,” and explicitly affirms the “solemn responsibility [of parents] to love and care for each other and for their children.” We see the Abbott’s reverence for God’s “commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth,” even in circumstances most of us would treat as an exception.
During the course of the film, we witness Lee and Evelyn provide for the “physical and spiritual needs” of their children, and “teach them to love and serve one another.” We witness first hand the Abbott family practice “faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” We see a father who “presides in love and righteousness,” and who “provide[s] the necessities of life and protection” for his family. We see a mother who “nurtures their children,” and we see that in both, they “help each other as equal partners.”
Seriously — it’s all in the movie. We even see a tragic example where “Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.” And we also see “calamities fall upon individuals, communities, and nations”! Ok, so maybe that’s a bridge too far.
Both Lee and Evelyn Abbott are stellar examples of parents and spouses. The actor John Krasinki demonstrates in his character the kind of non-toxic masculinity that husbands and fathers can aspire to: a quiet dignity in which he shoulders the responsibility to protect and provide for his family, a deep reverence for his wife, a tender, patient affection for his children, and competence when it comes to providing for their needs.
Conversely, Emily Blunt — who in real life is married to John Krasinki — demonstrates competence and quiet strength in the way she homeschools her children (since public school is no longer available in the aftermath of, well, man-eating aliens) and otherwise cares for the family. Yes, their duties as husband and wife seem to fall onto roughly traditional gender roles, but they are portrayed as equal partners — and I haven’t the slightest doubt that each would willingly and competently step into each other’s roles as needed.
This is a family that I would love to hang out with, invite over for dinner. I would love to learn Lee’s survivalist strategies. I would love to do a homeschool coop with them. I’d love to have long conversations about life, universe, and everything with them.
A Quiet Place tells a deeply pro-life story
There are two competing views on the nature of marriage: The companionate view holds that marriage is centered the personal satisfaction and fulfillment of romantic partners. The older, more traditional conjugal view holds that marriage is a union ordered towards procreation and new life. Christians traditionally hold to the conjugal view of marriage. This is part of Catholicism’s ongoing renunciation of birth control, a renunciation that was flirted with briefly by even LDS leaders in prior decades. While Latter-day Saints do not reject birth control, we share with Catholics the view that children are not commodities to be created when convenient for those who prefer them, but part of the raison d’etre of marriage itself.
A Quiet Place shows us a clearly Christian family (they pray over their meals, for example) living out their faith in extraordinary circumstances. Lee and Evelyn’s relationship with each other — while flavored with affection and romance — centers on their shared project of bringing new life into the world, and raising their children. “If we can’t protect them,” Evelyn asks at one point, “Then who are we?” None of this diminishes the depths of their love for each other. But both of them tacitly know that when it comes down to it, protecting the children comes before self-preservation. They expect that of themselves and of each other.
It is in this light that A Quiet Place shines as an exemplary pro-life film. We have no idea if this couple became pregnant on purpose or if it was an unintentional. But never once does the movie or the characters question their decision to have the baby and to protect it from harm — even at great risk to themselves. Never once do the characters express any remorse or regret over the pregnancy. Never once is this child treated as an inconvenience to them, even though “inconvenience” is the biggest understatement possible in the context of this story. That’s not only admirable for the characters, that’s admirable for the writers. It would have been easy to include even a single line where they question their commitment to a baby that is likely to bring monsters down upon them — and yet they did not.
The movie and its characters are smart and its themes are deep
The movie is smart. There’s almost no point where I question the logic of the film or of the characters. The only thing I wonder about is why nobody had explored the aliens’ weakness until now — it’s fairly obvious to most audience members, but maybe that’s because we are already genre-savvy. I hope that if aliens really invade earth, there’s enough genre-savvy people around to save the day.
Another thing this movie highlights: In dangerous situations, even minor mistakes can have life or death consequences. What might have been a meaningless, good natured rebellion — worthy of no more than a slight scold prior to the apocalypse — might have deadly consequences after the apocalypse. This forces characters to grapple with guilt and regret over actions that had no malicious intent but which devastated the family nonetheless. My heart ached with that of one of the characters — I can only imagine how many times she replayed her mistake over and over. The movie smartly showed this brutal reality, coupled with the need for forgiveness.
This is an important reminder that mortal life is also a place of danger, where even minor mistakes can lead to devastating consequences. Sometimes an even innocuous distraction while driving can lead to tragedy. Sometimes a parent might forget to clear the area around their vehicle and run over a child. Sometimes a child can discover a parent’s firearm, with deadly results. It is important to remember outsized consequences does not always mean outsized wrongdoing; innocent mistakes or minor sins can still be innocent mistakes and minor sins, even if the consequences are life changing and irreversible. Forgiveness of others — and self-forgiveness — is vital.
Finally, the movie highlights the nature of truly selfless and self-sacrificing love. One could easily analogize the final scenes of the movie to the Atonement of Christ and his sacrifice for us. Christ loves us so deeply that he is willing to freely give his life to rescue us from sin and death. He is willing to undergo tremendous pain on our behalf. And in that way, Christ becomes a prototype that fathers everywhere should aspire towards. John Krasinki does a masterful job portraying this kind of father.
This film is the type of action/horror film that Latter-day Saints can enjoy and support. I want more movies like this. It features a family of faith. There’s no profanity that I remember (but I could be wrong), very little gore (although there is some blood), and no sexual content. But it is intense and scary — so beware with young children. As I said above, I would put it at or near Jurassic Park in terms of suitability for kids. My wife warns, however, that parents of young children might also have a difficult time with this movie.