Less than half way through the year, John Krasinski,has already pulled off one of the best cinematic surprised of 2018. The charismatic comedic actor just delivered what is all but certain to be one of the best horror movies of the year, and considering he’s gone on record saying he’s not much of a horror fan, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the film is fundamentally rooted in family drama above all else, especially when it comes to the ending.
A Quiet Place follows the Abbott family; mother, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), father, Lee (Krasinski) and their children (Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds). When mysterious monsters come to earth, destroying all life that lives too loudly, the Abbotts have an unexpected leg up — their daughter, Regan (Simmonds), is hearing impaired and they already speak sign language, allowing them to communicate in silence without a hitch once the creatures come hunting. But this also places her at a distinct personal disadvantage — she can’t hear her environment, which means she can’t tell when the monsters are coming — a disadvantage demonstrated in heart-breaking detail in the film’s prologue. The well-meaning older sister hands her younger brother a toy, against her parent’s wishes, and when he activates the noise panel, she’s the closest to him, but the only one who doesn’t hear it. After her younger brother’s death, her relationship with her father is never the same, and she shoulders the weight of grief and guilt with a growing
The resolution of that relationship is fundamentally what allows the Abbott family to prevail in the end. Of course, Lee doesn’t hate his daughter for what happened to his son, he loves her and wants to help her, which is why he spends so much time trying to create a functional cochlear implant for her. Working from textbooks and research, he’s always tinkering on a new model, but they never work. During one of the more emotional moments in the film’s set up, Lee gives her the newest version, telling her he cobbled it together from pieces from a stereo speaker. She’s exhausted and frustrated and lets her anger fly during their talk, but when she gets back to her room, she tries it out anyway, disappointed when it doesn’t work but wearing it all the same. After all, her dad made it for her and she’s hungry to reconnect with him despite her frustrations.
Turns out the implant may not work as intended, but it has a much more potent effect — it emits a frequency that’s not only irritating to the creatures and their amplified hearing, it’s downright harmful. Whenever one of them gets too close to her, the ringing starts and the creature scampers off. The sound is unpleasant to her, but unbearable for the monsters and that fact saves her life more than once throughout the film.
All it takes is one rusty nail, an unlucky step down the stairs, and the fallout noise brings the monsters a-calling just as Evelyn slips into labor. She fires off the red lights, the SOS strand of the color-coded lights strung up around the family’s farm, and when her husband and children come running back, they end up separated with the children hiding outside in the fields and the parents tucked away in the sound-proofed basement with the newborn. Chaos ensues, and when Lee goes out to save the kids, he finds them pinned down in the old truck with a monster attacking from the outside. Regan can’t take the sound from her earpiece anymore, and when she turns it off without realizing the effect it has on the creatures, they’re screwed. Lee sees their predicament and makes a choice — he loudly drops the axe he’s holding and lets out a primal scream, one final last act to prove his love to his children.
As Regan and Marcus watch from the truck, Lee signs “I love you. I have always loved you.” And like that, their protector is gone. The kids make their way back to the basement, where they meet up with Evelyn for the last stand. With only a shotgun, an infant, and little hope in the world, they’re hidden and huddled with nowhere to run when Regan starts to put the pieces together. She sees her father’s workshop, sees how much work he’s put in to trying to build her a functional hearing device, and looking at the pieces of the puzzle Lee had scattered around his workspace, she realizes the earpiece is what was driving the monster away.
The monster attacks and we finally see one in full. She cranks up the volume to the sound system, puts her implant up against the receiver and blasts it, and suddenly the creature is paralyzed at the spot, spasming as the piercing frequency overloads the intense sound receptors in its head. Evelyn blasts off a shot at the creatures head, and for once the bullet actually strikes, bringing the beast down with a single strike. With more monsters on the move toward their location, Regan turns the volume all the way up, locks eyes with her mother — they’ve got this — and with one of the cheekier closing moments in recent memory, Evelyn cocks the shotgun, ready to business. Cut to black. The end.
It’s an emotional, moving end to a truly thrilling piece of monster horror because it’s rooted entirely in paying off the relationships. Regan realizes her father has always loved her, finding the resolution and absolution she desperately needed after her brother’s death, Lee fulfills his promise to protect his children, both in his brave final moments and by creating the device that allows them to defeat the creatures. They find their strengths in their greatest fears, turning disability into the source of their power, united together in an empowered stand against the creatures who have made them captives in their own home.
What do you think? Did you get something different from the film’s final moments? Have a different take? Movies are made to be interpreted in all kinds of ways, so sound off with your thoughts in the comments.