The Female Hunters of ‘A Quiet Place’ [Fatal Femmes]

Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for the A Quiet Place franchise.

As far as empowering endings go, it doesn’t get much better than a woman cocking a shotgun and calling in a monster. Following a movie filled with timid movements and silent screams, A Quiet Place ends with Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and her mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt) finally discovering a way to kill the hideous creatures that have destroyed the world. Despite this final scene, the script is often criticized for reducing a woman to her pregnancy. But John Krasinski’s harrowing film presents a world in which men are equally capable of caregiving and women are the fearsome hunters. The subsequent sequel A Quiet Place Part II and prequel A Quiet Place: Day One contribute to this empowerment with capable women navigating a treacherous new world. Not content to simply hide from the monsters, they become leaders and bring humanity one step closer to salvation.

Their Story

The timeline of the Quiet Place world is a bit convoluted. The initial film opens months after the apocalypse and we don’t actually see the invasion until the second franchise installment. Both the second and third entries begin with the alien invasion and ensuing chaos as bulb-headed arachnids stream down from the sky. The Abbott family encounter the beasts while watching a baseball game in upstate New York. Though most of their tiny farming town is destroyed, they manage to survive thanks to luck and a prior knowledge of American Sign Language that allows them to avoid detection by the sound-hunting monsters. They build a quiet life on their farm filled with noise-reducing tricks and dampened sound. 

The original story introduces us to this family 89 days later, on an ill-fated trip to the town’s abandoned pharmacy in which youngest son Beau (Cade Woodward) is killed by a roaming creature. A year later, they are still mourning. Regan blames herself and notices a distance growing between herself and her father Lee (Krasinski). Every night, he descends into the basement where he studies the extraterrestrials and tries to repair her cochlear implant. 

Meanwhile, Evelyn is expecting another child and frantically prepares to bring a noisy infant into this silent world. As her delivery nears, the family fractures and she finds herself alone when contractions begin. With Lee also falling victim to the aliens, Regan and her brother Marcus (Noah Jupe) return to find their mother huddling with her newborn in the flooding basement. Evelyn hands the baby to Marcus for protection as she and Regan take on the beasts. The brave daughter uses feedback from her cochlear implant to incapacitate the attacking monster while Evelyn shoots it in its unprotected head. Knowing that two more creatures are on the way, she cocks the shotgun and prepares for their arrival. 

Soon after, the frightened survivors venture out into the world. They stumble upon Emmett (Cillian Murphy), their former neighbor who is hiding in an abandoned warehouse. Though they now have a place to stay, the headstrong Regan ventures out alone, looking for survivors. When Emmett catches up, she convinces him to follow a signal from a nearby island. After encountering a clan of human monsters, they find a somewhat normal community protected by the sea. Though one alien manages to follow them onto the island, Regan makes her way to a nearby radio station and transmits a signal of noisy feedback her brother uses to stop and kill the thing threatening the rest of the Abbotts. 

Back in the city, a terminal cancer patient named Samira (Lupita Nyong’o) watches the day one attack from a busy NYC street. Though she and her service cat Frodo are able to shelter in place, she ventures to Harlem for a slice of sentimental pizza as a way to connect with the memory of her father. Along the way, she meets Eric (Joseph Quinn), a lonely law student with nowhere to go. As he helps her find joy in the midst of sorrow, she sacrifices herself so that he can make it to safety. At the harbor, she creates a noisy distraction while Eric runs with Frodo to a passing boat and joins the same group of survivors Emmett and Regan will one day find. Finally at peace, Samira calls in the monsters and dies on her own terms while listening to one of her father’s favorite songs. 

Their Weapons

Few creatures in the history of cinema have felt so immediately deadly as the Quiet Place aliens. With gnashing teeth and scissor-like claws, they move at lightning speed and quickly lay waste to anyone in their path. There is essentially no fighting these frightening beings. If they detect the presence of a human, they immediately pounce and rip them to shreds. The only way to survive is to hide in silence and wait for them to leave. The Abbotts are able to do this for a protracted amount of time, but a life of total silence ultimately proves unsustainable. 

With no options left and her father now dead, Regan stumbles upon her weapon by accident. Holding her cochlear implant as the beast attacks, she bumps it against an amplifier. Regan notices the alien stumble in response to the feedback and turns the volume up. As it writhes in pain, Evelyn raises the shotgun and puts the creature down. Knowing that two more monsters are roaming their land, she nods to her daughter and prepares for battle. Though Regan discovers a powerful weapon, her greatest asset is her incredible courage. Not content to hide forever, the restless girl constantly pushes against her father’s complacency and finally finds a way for her family to survive. 

Though Samira does not actually kill an alien, her greatest weapon is the knowledge that she has nothing to lose. Her quest for this pizza may seem overtly silly, but it’s this journey that brings Eddie within range of the boat that will save his life. Were he to keep wandering alone or with a passing crowd, he could easily fall in one of the horde’s horrific feeding frenzies. It’s her insistence on finding a tiny bit of joy that ultimately allows him to live. 

Their Victims

One might argue that every human in the Quiet Place franchise is a victim to an apocalypse. These creatures show little resemblance to humanity and don’t seem to mourn when one of them falls. However, their presence exacerbates an already fragile world, and the humans suffer more than loss of life. Not only must they watch their friends and family fall, but they are also helpless to save each other lest they be detected by the monsters themselves. They are frequently reduced to staring in horror as one of their own dies a painful death. Hoping to save his children, Lee uses the only weapon he has left and lets out a primal scream that attracts the aliens and allows them to flee.  

But perhaps Lee is a victim of his own limitations. Not only has he been refusing to let his daughter go fishing, but he won’t let her join him in the basement where he compiles his research. Were he to involve his daughter in his quest to fix her cochlear implant, maybe they would discover the key to killing the creatures in a way that would allow them all to survive. While likely a symptom of a patriarchal ideology in which men are the hunters and women manage the home, he is also probably worried about allowing her to venture too far from home. Lee likely worries that due to his daughter’s disability, she will be unprepared if the monsters turn up. His method of protection is to teach her to hide.

However, it is precisely because of this disability that her family has survived. His death seems to unlock her determination to live and mother and daughter step into the leadership void, succeeding where Lee has continuously failed. 

Though Evelyn is the one to finally kill the beast, she is a victim of this nightmarish new world, as well. Held hostage by her own pregnancy, each day brings her closer to a nightmarish delivery. Knowing she will likely cry out with the pain of her contractions, Lee has rigged a fireworks display to cover the sound. However, their solution to mask the baby’s cries is one of the film’s most horrific revelations. In addition to a basement nursery under the house, Evelyn has prepared a crib with a lid and a tiny oxygen mask. With no other options, they plan to close the baby inside this coffin-like box when they cannot quiet its natural cries. Not only will Evelyn’s delivery place her in mortal danger, every day with an uncontrollable child will also put her at risk. 

Their Motive

Though Lee and Evelyn have thought of every precaution, their desire is simply to wait out what feels like an inevitable end. They have understandably holed up in their familiar home and seem resigned to live in silence for the rest of their days. In this quiet valley, they cannot hear the signal that would call them toward survivors and may believe they are the only ones left. Evelyn, by his side, accepts this complacency and admirably tries to give her children something of a happy life. Her motive is simply to survive and it’s not until Lee has died that she finds the strength to seek something new. 

In fact, it’s Regan’s restless spirit that allows them to survive. Convinced the signal she heard will lead to salvation, she sets out with her amplifier and a shotgun, looking for survivors and more creatures to kill. Though this is a foolhardy mission, her refusal to hunker down and hide is what finally brings her family to safety. On the island, Evelyn could raise the baby in peace without the need of the coffin-turned-crib. Though one beast does eventually wreak havoc on this frightened community, Regan is prepared with her powerful weapon. It’s likely that once the terror has passed, they will be able to rig up similar devices to defend against a future breach.

Back in the city, Samira’s motive seems patently simple, but beneath this quest for pizza is a desire for joy. With her death all but certain, this nihilistic poet has essentially given up on life and pushes away anyone who offers her kindness. With the world falling down around her, she decides to live out her final days on a quest to recapture a bit of her past. Eric not only helps her reach her destination, but creates a joyful performance when she finally arrives. With her mission accomplished, Samira turns her eyes to his survival. She knows her own days are numbered, but chooses to give her own life to help him survive.

Their Legacy

The Quiet Place franchise is one of the more progressive series in mainstream horror. Not only are the women the hunters, the men are tasked with caring for children and maintaining comfort in the home. In the final sequence of the first film, Evelyn hands her newborn child to Marcus then turns to her daughter to kill the monster. She is empowering her children to show strength in non-traditional ways. Though Lee only wants to protect his family, his actions are demonstrative of patriarchal norms and essentialist views of his children’s abilities. And ultimately his way of life falls away with the rest of the world. It’s the women who emerge as the family’s salvation. 

Though A Quiet Place: Day One presents Samira and Eric as equally empathetic, this progressive attitude toward healing and hope pervades the film. Not only does Samira bond with a male nurse named Reuben (Alex Wolff) in the opening act, Eric is tasked with retrieving her medicine. Like Marcus, he is allowed to show strength mixed with vulnerability. Both young men frequently panic when the creatures approach. While this is an understandable response to a deadly monster, we’ve been conditioned to see women suffer hysterics then need to be calmed by a man. A Quiet Place: Day One shows us the reverse. On more than one occasion, Samira helps Eric through a debilitating panic attack. It’s her acceptance of fear and death that allows him to regain his rationality and ultimately survive. 

All three franchise installments show a world that has gone quiet, a feminized environment where gentleness is prized and irresponsible power becomes a death sentence. As the world itself falls apart, so do the patriarchal norms of civilized society. It is the women who step into positions of leadership and push their communities to safety. Regan and Samira refuse to sit by while their lives slip away and take brave steps into an unknown future. The world they will create is one in which men are not the inherent protectors with women minding the home. Women are equally capable of defending themselves while men excel at caring for the vulnerable. We connect over shared moments of joy rather than adherence to outdated norms. The tragedy lies in the massive destruction it takes to tear away the old ways and clear a path for the new. 


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