11:00 am EDT, April 13, 2018

‘A Quiet Place’ and ‘Blockers’ bring the complications of parenthood into focus

By Aaron Locke | Edited by Brandi Delhagen

You might be surprised to discover that Blockers and A Quiet Place actually have a lot in common.

Blockers is an R-rated comedy about three parents trying to stop their daughters from losing their virginity on prom night. A Quiet Place is a horror movie about a family living in complete silence as an alien species threatens to kill them.

These two movies are drastically different in genre, tone, and conceit. They take place in entirely completely dissimilar worlds and seek to evoke very different responses from their audiences. One strives for laughs, the other for fear. However, they share one key thematic element that illuminates unforeseen depths in each film.

Both A Quiet Place and Blockers are prominently interested in parenthood, both the struggle and rewards that accompany such a role. Despite the divergent portrayals of parenthood, both movies depict the lengths to which parents will go to protect their child and the degree to which children are forced to reckon with their parents’ mistakes.

You may be thinking that this is a bit silly, but it would be too easy (and dare I say lazy) to dismiss these movies as just a horror movie or just another comedy. That both of these movies – released by major studios and performing well at the box office – share such a shared and significant thematic element should not be ignored.

In Blockers, the parents of three high school seniors learn of their daughters’ plan to lose their virginity on prom night. Rather than trust their daughters to make safe and responsible choices, the parents launch a chase to track down their kids and stop them from making what they consider to be a mistake. Throughout the movie, the parents attempt to justify their actions in the name of protecting their kids.

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However, the film is keen to satirize the parents’ justifications, drawing attention to their antiquated and warped perspectives. The perceived threat – their daughters’ choice to lose their virginity – that serves as the impetus for the parents’ actions is little more than a reflection of their own fears of losing control.

The movie is hardly coy in articulating this point, emphasizing it time and time again throughout the movie. What’s more interesting is how the movie shows the daughters’ grappling with their parents own faults.

In the last act of the movie, the parents come face to face with their daughters. These confrontations function on several different levels. Not only are the parents forced to come to terms with their misplaced fears, but the girls experience a sort of disillusionment with their parents that highlights their fallibility and imperfections. The film brings the generational divide into the spotlight, demonstrating how parenthood is inherently about both triumphs and failures.

Blockers thoughtfully articulates a narrative that parses out the complicated nature of parenthood, narrowing in on the intersection between protecting one’s kids and suffocating them.

In Blockers, the threat the parents’ attempt to protect their kids from is, in fact, no threat at all. The same cannot be said for A Quiet Place.

In A Quiet Place, a mother and father (played by real life couple and parents Emily Blunt and John Kransinski) grapple with extraordinary circumstances while trying to protect themselves and their kids.

In a world where murderous monsters hunt using sound, the film tells the story of a family living in absolute silence. Those moments when a sound is made are typically followed by devastating conclusions.

It’s no coincidence that the film begins on the day that the couple’s youngest son is killed by one of the monsters. By beginning the story at this critical juncture, the film positions the crux of the dramatic tension on survival, particularly the struggle these two parents face in ensuring the survival of their children.

One of the few lines of dialogue in the film exemplifies the movie’s focus on parenthood. Evelyn (Blunt) says, “Who are we if we can’t protect them?” She aligns her own identity as a parent to her ability to protect her kids. This is hardly a far cry from Blockers, a film principally concerned with parents attempting to protect their children.

Also like Blockers, A Quiet Place depicts what happens when children are forced to reckon with their parents mistakes. In the film, Evelyn is pregnant – a pregnancy that not only puts her newborn at risk, but also impairs her ability to protect her other children. Some have criticized this plot point as just stupid and irresponsible, but its inclusion is key to understanding the film’s position on parenthood.

A Quiet Place depicts parents caught between selflessness and selfishness — protecting their children at all costs and bringing another child into the world. The film also depicts the children wrestling with how their parents’ mistakes impact them.

Both Blockers and A Quiet Place are concerned with the very nature of parenthood and while their genres may be quite different, they undoubtedly exist on the same spectrum.

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