My spouse bought the tickets, got us free glasses of ice water and I scurried off to use the restroom. I sat down in the dark theatre, baffled by the motley collection of previews that ranged from the dramatic yet playful “Avengers” series to an odd, demonic horror movie of uncomfortable supernatural darkness. I was reminded how even though I write horror, most horror I’ve come across I dislike and avoid. More on this later.
I relaxed as the “The Quiet Place” finally began and flashed my husband a grin. I was geeked about this movie, particularly because I could learn more American Sign Language (ASL). As I mentioned previously, I’m attempting to become fluent in ASL and was curious how the language–and maybe even Deaf culture–was incorporated into the film.
“A Quiet Place” is the story of an American family cobbling a bizarre, post-apocalyptic existence while striving not to make the slightest noise. The parents are raising children, one who is a teenaged deaf girl and two younger boys who are hearing. Alien neighbors surround the town and farm where the family scratches out an existence. The aliens are blind, armored predators; they target and kill anything that makes the slightest noise (including unlucky raccoons). The family walks barefoot on sand paths, eats on lettuce plates and plays Monopoly with soft fabric playing pieces. They cannot cry loudly and struggle with expressing (and suppressing) their emotions. The parents whisper hoarsely to their kids and use ASL to communicate and teach their children how to survive.
I made it through about 40 minutes of the 90 minute film before leaving. Hats off to Mr. John Krasinski, the director, for the movie’s unique power. I walked out of the theatre, afraid to make any noise in case an alien was hiding around the corner ready to ambush me. I blared my Pandora station with courage at home and proceeded to clean my house–until 2 in the morning.
It’s very difficult for me to watch anything where children are in danger of being hurt or killed. Part of this is my character and my personal work; other parts are probably my studies and knowledge of human history. My brain knows the film used computer graphics and green screens. The kids were probably laughing and joking between takes on the set, giggling at each other’s bloopers and picking their boogers when nobody was looking. With the strict laws we have in America protecting actors, I knew no one was in any actual real danger–the kids in particular. If there had been an accident on set, attorneys would have outrun the aliens.
My horror novel, M.B. (which is currently in my editor’s hands), is a story I wrote involving children in danger. There are difficult, dark scenes I included describing the hardships of one of the character’s backstory. It’s not particularly pleasant and isn’t intended to be. I struggled while writing it and doubted myself at times. Does this make me a hypocrite? Maybe, maybe not.
I like horror in general–good horror. As a follower of the rabbi in dusty sandals, I believe there are demons and dark forces at work every day in our world. Horror–to me–illuminates this and guides us through the dark chapters of all of our lives. I consider “The Quiet Place” good horror and will hopefully finish viewing it one day. What I don’t like is when horror basks in evil and delights in it. I turn it off, I turn away and find something else to watch or read. M.B. is more a commentary on the evils of the world and how they prey on the vulnerable–children in particular. I don’t pretend any of it is good or easy to comprehend.
As my novel becomes published (hopefully by Fall 2018), I will share more of why I wrote M.B. and the influences behind the writing. I hope you’ll join me.
Have you seen The Quiet Place? What’d you think? Leave your thoughts and comments below. Readers–spoilers may be below so proceed cautiously if you want to see the film first.
Song: “Cups (Pitch Perfect’s When I’m Gone)”, Anna Kendrick