The idea of an apocalypse is no longer foreign. It’s gotten to the point that movies like A Quiet Place, with eight-legged spider-inspired hard-of-hearing monsters that have destroyed the world are perfectly plausible to the average viewer. We have lived there, in zombie movies, in flu-virus decimated cities, in worlds where technology went haywire or nukes or zealots or aliens or nothing at all really have destroyed the world so frequently, so thoroughly, that a world devoid of human life is almost expected.
The only question is, which way will it end? Global warming, fascism, an asteroid, stubborn dictator, stubborn leader of the free world (this is fill in the blank now!) or famine, or plague, or Flint, Michigan.
The most convincing of these all, now, is a logical conclusion. We need the panopeia of desolation. We need a world so thoroughly ravaged that every fear, those of terrorists and demagogues and over-running tributaries, of flesh-eating fungi and dead guy, ray-gun and immigrant, all converge into one singular annihilation event.
Can you imagine it? Influenza infected green men hacking on zombies that have fungus growing out of their radiation contaminated teeth?
Plus giant soundwave-pouncing spiders. All of it. Coming down on your head.
Now that’s something original.
Which isn’t to say the movie, A Quiet Place, wasn’t good. There were iconic scenes which I’ll never forget—the bathtub and the running water and shouting at the waterfall, a baptism into manhood, for instance—and John Krasinki’s portrayal of a father’s love, which in itself was a nod to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, was excellently rendered. The script was about as perfect as you could have hoped for, even if it did remind me Signs. And, if pressed to identify a weak link in the cinematic experience, I’d have to say that I was more annoyed by the utter silence of the movie theater than appropriately unsettled. I could hear kids munching popcorn three rows away and the bass of whatever blockbuster played in the adjacent theater. I’m not sure if it would have been better or worse at home.
It stuck with me though, because as the final credits rolled, I wondered why we crave annihilation. What about the idea of a world where there is only us, armed with our wits and years of cumulative distrust for the system in a hostile world, is so appealing?
Perhaps it’s because, on same base level, we know it’s so close. We already inhabit a world just waiting to fire, evict, condemn, expose, bully, and humble us at any opportunity. The environment is trashed and democracy is a steadily eroding beach. The world has been at war, in one place or another, since World War I. The post-apocalypse, then, is not only inevitable to our psyche, it is a world where no one is left with any good will and the hope that anything good will happen has finally been removed (mostly). There’s no more doubt about what’s trying to hurt you.
And, as a bonus, there’s plenty of solitude.
Maybe, subconsciously, that’s the future we look forward to when indulging in movies like A Quiet Place. Whatever causes it to come to pass.