SILENCE IS NOT GOLDEN: A META-REVIEW OF “A QUIET PLACE”

This article was originally published in Subjected to Truth.

Silence is golden they say. But what about a word where silence is mandatory? That is the world we are sent to when we are taken to the world of “A Quiet Place”. With that said you know all that from the trailers, at least you should if not you will find the trailer below. With that said MASSIVE SPOILERS follow so please do yourself a favor and skip this review until you have seen it. In a nutshell the movie is excellent and well worth seeing, by far one of the best horror movies I have seen in recent memory. The movie features a level of depth that I especially appreciate in movies and its one you can appriciate for a long time to come. Spoilers will be present below the trailer so read at your own risk.

Movies and Parables

Jesus frequently spoke in parables to convey truths that went beyond the story itself. Movies often have the opportunity to offer us the same in their modern-day parables. Horror movies are especially good for having hidden analogies that can slide in underneath the literal story. We find this in movies like The Babbadook where you find a terrifying story that is made all more horrific when you realize its actually about loss and depression. Or The Mist where we meet people in crisis and witness worldviews in conflict in all the worst ways…not to mention the ultimate outcome of those worldviews. Wither these movies intend to send the messages is irrelevant in a certain sense because as a work of art interpretation is key. For me I choose to interpret many movies through the lens of a modern parables that conveys truth through a story that elicits emotion and helps me reflect on the nature of reality. If you want to find out more about this kind of reflection and how it exists within horror I would suggest checking out the podcast I recorded with Joel Furches of The Mentionables on the “Argument from Horror”. This brings me to the second warning, if you were hoping for a straight forward review you might want to skip this one. interpretations follow below the link to the aforementioned podcast.

Argument from Horror podcast

Parenting is Scary

It’s no secret from the interviews with the director(John Krasinski) that this movie is intended to have a heavy child raising theme. However, this takes on a new meaning in some sense that I’m not sure the director intended. We have a scary world where silence means survival for our small family of seemingly religious protagonists. We see a family who prays together at meal time even though they don’t dare speak. A family who sees children as a blessing even in a world where they are a hazard and cause constant fear. And did I mention the homeschooling? Now, all this could easily be written off as a matter of necessity. But for a movie that took a lot of care in getting details right it is hard to write off the other message here. This family can easily represent a conservative perspective in our current polarized political environment.

Then we have the world they live in. One of fear and near constant terror. Speaking up is death. The world is absolutely hostile to this family not because of their values or who they are but because that is the boiling point that has been reached by this “alien” threat. Not the peace and hope of a united world that Ozymandias tried to bring forth in The Watchmen but something far more sinister that has a mind of its own. The Christian in me sees this as the world I live in, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does” (2 Corinthians 10:3).

Now, I don’t interpret this movie as some massive and amazing allegory of the silencing of Christians in America…although I can’t help but think some will see it that way. Instead though I think we should take it a little more at face value. The emphasis is not on oppression, the emphasis is on the parenting. Parenting is hard but it is critically important for survival. This should be blatantly obvious to the world at large and yet as much as we see it on a national basis with parenting failures in the news we constantly overlook our own shortcomings. Not to mention how easily we overlook the impact of cultural trends and shifts on the next generation. Now these claims are all very general but it brings me to the a point of reflection Christian parents should draw from this movie. We are failing to train our children to face the world. About a year or so ago I offered to facilitate a study with parents and children on logic and reasoning through the claims of the gospels. What I got was not a single serious response. I know a handful of diligent Christian parents saw this but no one was willing to invest a couple hours for 8 weeks to teach their children to think critically about the Bible’s claims.

Yes, I know time and mental investment in your children’s lives is difficult. But what so many neglect is that it is of utmost importance in this day and time. In the movie we see the parents raise up their children with both successes and failures but at the very least they try. And in the end we see that their efforts are rewarded with critical thinkers who stand up and not just stand by to threats. These are the kinds of children we should all look forward to having. But it takes work, standing by and shutting up does not yield these results. It takes training.

Inoculation Not Indoctrination

Richard Dawkins very adamantly insists that “indoctrinating” children is child abuse. While I think his words are rather harsh I also think he has a point. Christians should not be looking to teach their children a blind faith or in the case of the movie a blind silence. Blind silence does not help anyone, we see this in the early moments of the movie when the family suffers unbelievable loss that everyone ends up blaming on themselves for. A genuine Christian faith is not about indoctrination but instead about inoculating your children so they can face the world on their own once you are gone. This is far from abuse, this is preparing them to face not only the world but to challenge the status quo so that they don’t become victims of “fake news”. The future can only be bright if we have children more willing to fight then we are. And mind you I don’t mean a fight for Christianity specifically but instead a fight for truth and if the evidence points to Christianity being true then it should be included in that teaching.

Teenagers and young adults continue to leave “the church” in record numbers and atheism has nearly double among the next generation. Why is this? I don’t think it is the failing of the church. I think it is the failing of parents. How many of us are equipped to actually defend what we believe? And further yet how many of us have taken the time to equip our children with these same skills? My guess is very few do this efficiently…I include myself in this warning as well…I could do SO much more. And what is the result of our short comings? I think we would all do well to listen to the stories of Bart Campolo and Sean McDowell, they were recently featured on an episode of Unbelievable? which can be found here. The personal stories of these two men tell stark differences between an emotional indoctrination and an evidential inoculation. I highly encourage everyone to check out this podcast.

Back to the Movie

In a quiet place we see parenting in real time, its success, its failures, and ultimately the sacrifice associated with leading by example. To teach our children to truly stand up and grow it requires sacrificing our comfort and maybe more importantly our silence. In the end this movie is an excellent thriller that is successful in its atmospheric nature as well as packing a hard emotional and intellectual punch that can’t be ignored. I certainly don’t think this movie intends to send the apologetic message I took from it. But I think as a Christian parent the parable I observed playing out has reminded me of something of critical importance. I hope that no matter your take on the movie you can bring home a similar take away that you can apply to your parenting and use as a reminder of the things that really matter in a world all to ready to eat you alive if you don’t play by their status quo. 

Caleb Johnston

Caleb Johnston is a father of 4 and husband of 1 from Roanoke Virginia. He has an undergraduate degree in psychology from Roanoke College and has an deep passion for apologetics. Caleb’s goal in life is to seek out truth and help others to do the same.