Over the summer, I watched A Quiet Place for the first time. I found that the film, for the most part, lived up to the impressive hype. As I watched, I realised something: A Quiet Place shows exactly how to make great horror movies.
This movie has simple rules. The creatures hunt by loud sound. If they find you, you will die. I find many horror movies have incredibly complex rules and it can be hard to keep track of how things work. Why is this important? Because it’s actually scarier. I think that simple rules make something scarier, as you can be drawn into the story better, instead of sitting there and trying to figure out what the rules are. More than that, by having simple rules, you know when they are being broken. The tension is more palatable because you can easily tell if someone is at risk, rather than struggling to figure out when said tension is happening.
This film has something many do not: good characters. The characters of A Quiet Place are interesting, complex and surprisingly well established considering they can’t speak. Now, why is this important for horror movies? It is hard, at least in my view, to care about characters when they aren’t properly fleshed out (i.e they feel like actual humans). The reason The Conjuring worked so well, is you genuinely care about the family and want to see them survive.
The characters in A Quiet Place aren’t that cliché. Horror movies need to end that cliché of the “five”. The characters ever present in horror movies to the point most of us can recite them from memory: the promiscuous girl, the athlete, the stoner, the nerd and the virgin. Those characters, at least for me, automatically scupper any chance of getting invested because they’re just dull. Please see Cabin In The Woods for the definition of these cliché characters.
There’s another side to the characters I want to make a point of discussing here: the film focuses on them and their stories. I’ve seen enough people on film get stabbed, torn, shot, ripped apart and killed another billion ways. It’s not interesting and just makes the film very dull. The way to make a horror movie interesting is to focus on the characters and how they adapt and survive to the world. Again making you more invested in the characters and their survival.
Next, we come to the issue of effects. Bad CGI is very noticeable and at least to me, quite laughable. It takes me out of the story of horror movies especially when the effects on the monster are not convincing. It makes the film less scary. Not only are the gore and creature effects in A Quiet Place convincing, they do the smart thing by keeping the monsters and gore in the background to reduce expenditure on the effects. Bad effects usually come down to a lack of money and time, and so hiding the creature makes the effects more convincing because you don’t have to spend so much.
So there we have it. These are the ways I think the horror genre can improve itself by following the lessons given by A Quiet Place.
by Michael Fraser