Despite being planned for release before anyone had heard of Covid-19, A Quiet Place Part II can be read as an allegory for the world’s response to the pandemic.
That at least is the contention of Jerrine Tan in an op-ed for Wired.
“The dystopian vignettes of deserted streets and shuttered stores too intimately reflect what was very recently our own dystopian reality under COVID-19,” she writes.
The same can be said of many a film set in a post-apocalyptic world. Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, or I Am Legend, starring Will Smith, are just two visions of a virus wiping out most of humanity with survivors left to face off against zombies or mutants.
Tan extends her treatise a little further though, recognizing that it is her response to the film rather than the filmmaker’s intent that she is critiquing.
The film premiered on March 8, 2020, but repeatedly delayed its theatrical release due to COVID until this month and is, she finds, “uncannily prescient about many of the challenges we have since encountered, making its belated release ironically timely.”
For example, the character Emmett (Cillian Murphy) is depicted isolated in an abandoned steel mill and reluctant to help anyone but himself.
“The strength of the film lies in getting him — and us — to recognize that what is necessary in the face of disaster is actually the opposite,” of retreat into one’s “inner citadel” she contends.
This serves as an allegory for national responses to COVID-19.
“Physical isolation measures such as the closing of borders and travel restrictions may have been necessary, but a total solipsistic turn inward will not ultimately help any country (developed or developing), especially with regard to diplomatic engagement, sharing vaccine technology and supplies, and cooperation on virus-related research,” says Tan.
Vaccinating an entire domestic population does no good with such a transmissible and mutating virus if equal measures are not taking for the good of all.
“Alien monsters and viruses alike have a knack for crossing oceans and borders, penetrating bodies and communities,” she says.
It is the response of Emmett, empowered by child heroine Regan, that Tan says “subverts the usual postapocalyptic paradigm, in which survivors find a safe haven and make their way there in order to find community and rebuild.”
Instead, Regan and Emmett reveal their discovery about how feedback from the cochlear implants can be a defense against the monsters to the other survivors, and enlist their help to broadcast the feedback over the radio.
“Regan’s commitment to thinking beyond herself and even her family is what ultimately and inadvertently saves them all,” she says.
“At this milestone in the pandemic, A Quiet Place Part II serves as an ironically prescient… metaphor for the lessons we have learned as a global community — that our lives and fates are inexorably intertwined; that thinking selfishly about one’s own protection will not work as a long-term fail safe measure.”