The Ending of 'A Quiet Place' Satisfies Without Answering Questions
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the movie A Quiet Place, and discusses the ending of the movie in detail.
Sometimes when you're walking out of a movie and a friend starts to pick apart the logical inconsistencies, the dopey character motivations, or the unexplored plot tangents, it's tempting to just hold your finger to your lips and shush them. Even though you're safely in the lobby and the credits have rolled, you want to give them the quiet car treatment. John Krasinski's A Quiet Place, a propulsive work of pop horror about a family battling monsters that track humans via sound, is that type of movie. It will inspire debate; it will also inspire lots of silent death stares.
The movie's ending, which provides a satisfying emotional resolution to the story without answering many of the larger questions raised by the film's premise, will likely be a source of conflict in the coming weeks. With a $50 million opening weekend that exceeded recent horror films like The Conjuring, Get Out, and Split, along with a healthy 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, A Quiet Place is a commercial and critical hit that won't be going away. Expect to see Krasinski's bearded face everywhere.
The director and actor, who was previously best known as Jim from NBC's The Office and one of the guys in Michael Bay's Benghazi movie, has made a movie that plays like a theme park ride. That distinction sounds like a negative criticism but it's not: In its most effective set-pieces, like a bathtub birth sequence involving star Emily Blunt and a gripping showdown in a grain silo, the movie recalls the visceral popcorn thrills of Steven Spielberg blockbusters like War of the Worlds and Jurassic Park. A week after Spielberg mined his own past for the video game riff Ready Player One, with often frustrating results, Krasinski has made a leaner, meaner take on the legendary filmmaker's favorite themes of parental anxiety and familial responsibility. It asks that classic Spielberg-ian question: How far will you go for the ones you love?
The ending of A Quiet Place, which centers around a busted pickup truck, is so rewarding because it rarely loses sight of that question. When Krasinski's Lee Abbott is presented with an opportunity to save his children, Regan and Marcus, from a monster that threatens to murder them, he unleashes a blood-curdling scream. It's primal, desperate, and, yes, a little goofy. His sacrifice arrives right after he signs to his hearing-impaired daughter Reagan that he loves her, erasing her fears that he didn't care about her because of the role she accidentally played in her younger brother's death, which opens the film. The final exchange between father and daughter is familiar, but it's also tremendously moving.
Similarly, the face-off between a shotgun-welding Blunt and the monster, which struggles against the feedback generated by Regan's cochlear implant, is textbook in its approach. The solution resembles an example in a screenwriting manual: Regan uses a microphone to amplify the feedback and causes the protective armor on the creature's head to open up. A slimy head explosion follows. They've found its weakness. The monsters are vulnerable now. The family hasn't exactly won the war for Earth -- after all, Krasinski is definitely dead, there's a new baby, and these kids will need a lot of therapy -- but it's a small human victory. In movies like this, those matter the most.
That tendency to follow the emotional beats of the story instead of attempting to untangle various plot threads or establish new mysteries makes A Quiet Place stand out in the era of the mystery-box storytelling. The exposition is kept to a bare minimum and there's no attempt to connect the plot to a larger cinematic universe. (In an odd twist, two of the film's writers have said in interviews that the script was considered as a potential Cloverfield movie at one point.) Krasinski keeps his camera focused on the faces of his actors and lets small details about the larger world do the work.
Inevitably, there will be theories and speculation about the film. The bits of newsprint we see around the house, which has a woodsy chic quality that extends to the cast's J. Crew catalog-ish wardrobe, offer hints of a larger global conflict. Where did these creatures come from? Can the family weaponize the feedback on a larger scale? Why do they hate loud noises so much? And then there's the logic-police angle: Why not make your whole house soundproof? Why not hide out under the waterfall all the time and build a cave to live in there?
Let's leave those questions for the inevitable A Quiet Place sequel to deal with (A Quieter Place?). Recent history suggests that the film's financial success will lead to future chapters that explore different parts of the mythology with varying results. Krasinski, who had previously only directed TV episodes and a couple smaller indie features, will likely go on to make other movies and will probably eventually helm a Marvel film. For now, let's appreciate A Quiet Place in the same manner its characters would: With cautiously optimistic whispers.