The Allegory Covida Involvement in ‘A Quiet Place Part II’

When I saw it A Quiet Place in theaters three years ago, like many, I was shaken by the weight of the immersive, horrible, shattering silence of the horror film. Last week, when I saw it A Quiet Part II, it was the first time in a long time that I was in a theater or in any room with so many people. The experience was personally emotional, yet I noticed with irony how, in a film preached to silence, I was made incredibly aware of how noisy a cinema is. All the ambient sounds – the squeak of popcorn, the squeak of tight jeans against the vinyl seats, the moan of anticipation – made me intimately aware of the presence and proximity of moviegoers. In the logic of the film, these sounds could kill me; in the logic of our reality, until a few months ago, even their breaths could do the same.

Watching a post-apocalyptic film more than a year into a global pandemic is an exercise in the strange. The dystopian vignettes of deserted roads and closed warehouses reflect too intimately what was very recently our own dystopian reality under Covid-19.

It follows, perhaps, that A Quiet Part II it has been criticized for not being imaginative enough — nor for being too engaged in realism (a strange critique for a monster movie) or doesn’t offer enough depth on the characters or monsters. Many critics seem to have forgotten that the film was actually set to be released just before the pandemic hit. The film premiered in New York on March 8, 2020, but has repeatedly delayed its theatrical release due to Covid. For a film produced before the pandemic was on the horizon, it was actually puzzling for many of the challenges we’ve encountered since then, making its late release ironically timely.

Already aware of the premise from the original, the audience is made jumpingly aware of the rum in the sequence, and the film handles this to great effect. We stared at the crack of a plastic water bottle, sat down to the roar of a car engine, held our breath at the cut of boots. The film plays cleverly and counterintuitively with sound, capable of making the invisible and the unheard visible, audible – shaping silence like an absence of sound that it cannot be understood. The “silence” of the world, for example, is both intensified and brought on by an acute relief from the amplification of environmental noise: birdsong, cicadas, rustling leaves. Our world, even without us, is never really peaceful.

I have no interest in defending the problematic policy of the original and the sequel. If the first film could be read as a commentary white racial fears, the second eliminates this possibility. Cringingly, people of color in Pt II they are either made to appear reckless and used as convenient scapegoats, or they are sacrificed as noble martyrs for the survival of the white Abbott family. You can’t even remember those of Nancy Pelosi terrible blunder when he refers to the death of George Floyd as his “sacrifice for justice.” In addition to an awkward glorification, trust, and romanticization of weapons, in the first film, there’s the homage to reproductive futurism: Evelyn (played by Emily Blunt) trembles: “Who are we, if we can’t protect ourselves? [our children]? Even the indomitable Blunt emerges breathless – if briefly – in full “Karen” glory when she asks that her traumatized old lady with literal skeletons in her closet, Emmett (Cillian Murphy), risk her life for bring back his daughter.

But the film also manages to offer some valuable insights. When the Abbott family first put Emmett in an abandoned steelworks, he was reluctant to help them. In fact, it is so fully insulated that an airtight furnace serves as its literal and metaphorical inner sanctuary – one that offers protection against the threat of asphyxiation. It is this tension that A quiet place Part I and II Explore even more widely: A gunshot can save your life, but it invariably attracts more creatures that deal with death. America and many other countries have reported this in the course of the pandemic that many people have suffered with problems such as mental health and domestic abuse in captivity; on the contrary, premature reopening or social events that feel uplifting to a life degree have ultimately led to more severe waves of infections, and invariably more deaths. Emmett’s inner sanctum acts as a symbol for his asceticism and his refusal to engage with the world. The philosopher Isaiah Berlin launches two forms of freedom, positive and negative. Negative freedom describes the absence of barriers to one’s freedom, while positive freedom denotes the possibility of acting to take control of one’s life. Positive freedom, however, presents a paradox: In an oppressive system, one can change one’s beliefs, convince oneself that one’s desires are diminished, retreating “into an inner citadel” in which one feels happy. This is literally what Emmett did and the strength of the film is to make him – and us – recognize that what is needed in the face of disaster is actually the opposite.

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