Throughout various psychological studies, scientists find that common fears are truly representative of deeper insecurities, unrest, and dread that exist within individuals and society as a whole. For this reason, long-lasting horror films are most effective through the revelation of fear and anxieties that extend beyond the presented antagonists. The effect is haunting. A common case is the fear of clowns. While these circus performers and birthday party entertainers are most described as unsettling because of their exuberant facial expressions and frequent appearance in terrifying films, the actual explanation for one being afraid of them can best be described as a fear of being tricked or “tricksters”; clowns represent “masked” members of society that hide inner monstrosities (Hong, What Your Fears Say About Your Personality). Based on the same phenomenon, Krasinski’s A Quiet Place uses a motif of silence to follow a family’s survival in an apocalyptic world where creatures are drawn to noise. In this apocalyptic landscape, society has grown silent literally and symbolically; communication has reversed to pre-civil forms, common uses of society such as stories and buildings are abandoned, and survival has returned to a state of self-sufficiency. Using a powerful tendency of interjected peaceful scenery and idyllic family life between silent ruins, A Quiet Place symbolizes the grander anxiety that haunts a society that relies on family life: death–and the roles of direction.

As seen in the very premise of the film, when the world falls apart, family is the last bound to fail–only truly threatened by death. From the beginning, the family is stricken with grief when the youngest son is killed by a creature–taken away in a flash of bustling teeth. In just a moment, his place on the family branch was ripped away from his parents and siblings. However the downfall of the world may have come to this apocalyptic state, the family has still survived even the ills of losing speech. Yet, death plagues them. While it is not described the state of life prior to the creatures’ appearance, newspapers around the house collected by the father reveal the assumption that the world was like the modern day: human-centered, industrialized, and certainly bustling. Just as in any case of extremities, whether in success or downfall, flaws and fears are only amplified. The parents must find where their responsibilities lie with their children, and how to protect them from these “angels of death”, as described by news headings in the film (A Quiet Place).

In a constant battle with trying to continue a state of normal, family life, the mother and father play roles of father and mother despite restrictions, accepting this new way of survival in order to preserve their family. Creating sand paths to walk in silence, this action is a metaphorical discussion of parental controls, instructing paths that will avoid the most challenge. The question of the ethical correctness of such measures extending to modern-day society is an impossible question: consequences are a double-sided scale.

The fear of death ultimately reveals a twin fear that destructs idealized life: the lack of control beyond even mortality. While the family in A Quiet Place begins the film submissive to the changing world, their thematic resilience to their upholding family network offers balm. The protection of life is examined in their choice to prepare for the upcoming baby's birth–rather than searching for another alternative. They cherish the possibility of life and expanding family life more than they fear mortality. It is suggestible that this sense of family connection, however dangerous it may seem in obvious terms, may actually be the reason they have survived for so long. At the conclusion of the film, the daughter discovers that her hearing aids produce a frequency that disrupts the “angels of death” to a point of crippling the attack rather than only drawing their attention. Her late father spent many scenes of the film dedicating time to improving her hearing aids so that she would be able to hear dangerous noises. It was an act of unconditional love. That, inevitability, is what saved her from the grander picture–even if the original intention of substituting her hearing was never truly accomplished. Thus seen, the Edenic state of the dreamed “family life” is a juxtaposition of itself; just as in the garden of Eve, their abilities to develop as a family–both biological and spiritual through challenges–only came from adversities and leaving the perfect state of the garden (The Holy Bible, Gen.2-3). Paradise was in their beings and way of making where they stood a place of holiness rather than solely standing in places of holiness. Therein lies the true definition of an idyllic family: unconditional love, and the state of standing.

The father’s sacrificial death cry in A Quiet Place serves not only as a catalyst to mortality before the eyes of his children but unconditional love as a way of overcoming death. Lying alongside only two other instances in the film in which human noises of this degree are produced in the film–his wife’s cry during labor and the old man’s suicidal shout over his dead wife–all cases are connected through life-grasping efforts. The cry of a woman in labor is the literal creation of human life; the man in the woods cried out to join his wife in death, grasping for a spiritual life of existing in the same state of existing; the father’s cry that called death towards him in order to preserve the life of his children–which he at one point gave life to. The emergence of sound throughout this film requires purpose, the lack of noise elsewhere creates an emphasizing platform as compared to other frequencies of events. Of the stated cases, the flaw is in the suicidal man, who finds himself in such a state of grief and horror that he cannot see optimistically. His face is torn with anguish, fighting against his own tragedy–a similar expression to that of the mother’s at the start of the film when she knows her baby is dead. However, in her case, she covered her cries with the palm of her hands. In contrast to the other two cases, the suicidal man lacks value in possible life. His value of morality, seen in the fatal shout he released, was materialist and instrumental. The state of the home behind him in the scene is in graven ruins–a stark contrast to the livelihood the family has maintained despite external circumstances.

Inside the silent atmosphere of A Quiet Place that interrupts an idyllic family life with “Angels of Death”, speaking of the uncontrollable nature of mortality, where resilience in possible life and unconditional love resignifies the overcoming of death. While haunted by the vestige of prior society, the protagonistic family develops life through birth and even death, reiterated by the roles of parenthood and the dedication to unconditional love bounds. These “angels of death” are meant to represent the fear of death; deeper, however, these creatures reveal the real terror to society as being the lack of control and power most in cases of pain. The film suggests that sustaining strong family life creates powerful, life-sustaining connections that trump death in ways materialistic values may fail.


Hong, Hana. “What Your Fears Reveal About Your Personality.” The Healthy, The Healthy, 13 Apr. 2021,

Krasinski, John. A Quiet Place. 2018.

The Holy Bible. King James Version, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Salt Lake City UT, 1979.

Written: March 2023

A.R. Hansen

Author of Battle of the Mind