About Really Awful Movies

Horror movie authors and journalists who also review exploitation, action, grindhouse, kung fu, sci fi and other genre films. We are hosts of the Really Awful Movies Podcast, a celebration of low budget cinema - smart genre film chat, predominantly horror movies.

A Quiet Place

“In space, no one can hear you scream.” That’s of course from Alien, but in A Quiet Place, that’d actually be beneficial. According to the IMDb summary, “Two parents do what it takes to keep their children safe in a world full of creatures hunting every sound they can hear.”

In its post-apocalyptic world, there are predatory toothy aliens about who hone in on human vocal patterns and pounce. The remaining survivors have to rely on sign language, gestures, or loud noises to drown out their vocalizing and not become targets (a much more interesting take is the Canadian convention-defying horror, Pontypool, where a zombie virus is transmitted by the English language and survivors are holed up in a radio station).

A Quiet Place employs an interesting gambit: essentially making the audience deaf to go along for the ride. Against a backdrop of pure silence, jump scares (of which there are many) are much more pronounced. Unfortunately, jump scares are garbage, the equivalent of comedians lazily dropping F-bombs for cheap laughs (Jump scares are cheap scares. A loud noise pumped into the middle of even The Sound of Music could scare an audience).

As a post-apocalyptic conceit, the premise of A Quiet Place is genius. And as an experimental exercise, it’d be a great short. At feature length, you’ll be tuning out your other senses.

There’s a scene with a two-inch nail poking up through a wooden step. It’s obvious telegraphing that a pregnant Emily Blunt will step on it. That she doesn’t cry out means that filmmakers are too locked into their stunt-premise.

Silent films (which A Quiet Place is in part) usually make up for it with creepy visuals a la The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. So without any visceral visuals, what’s left is pretty tame, dull stuff. It’s true, saying something is boring isn’t the most fine-tuned criticism to levy, but for a reviewer who sat through a documentary about Helvetica font (!) and enjoyed it…maybe it could be.

Par for the course, bloodless horror movies like this one are wildly overpraised and over-reviewed. Being gore-free gives them a veneer of critical respectability.

Let’s hope the screenwriter wasn’t paid by the word.

**1/2 (out of 5)

Horror Movie Dictionary: Demons

“The sleep of reason gives birth to monsters!”

That line is from Lamberto Bava’s Demons (the movie-within-a movie part), where teens are puttering around a cemetery and come across an ancient tome (spoiler alert: never, ever open ancient books and read out weird incantations. It didn’t work for the folks in Evil Dead either).

The “sleep of reason” bit is something we lifted for fair use in our Really Awful Movies Podcast intro (we actually reached out to the distributor to get their approval, which surprised the heck out of them as forthrightness isn’t the order of the day online). The dialogue from the film is a variant of a phrase, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, an etching by Spanish romantic painter Francisco Goya, part of his series called “Los Caprichos (The Caprices).” (William Blake’s “May God us keep From Single vision and Newton’s sleep” is its anti-quote).

Demons is a film that inspired our line of merchandise, and graphics for this very site’s banner. At first, we deployed our other favorite, Bill Lustig’s Maniac, but Demons seemed more appropriate as the series’ combination of silliness and disgusting gore really resonated with us.

Demons is a near-perfect movie, especially for the ethos of this site, and associated podcast. It’s as enjoyably stupid, gory, weird, and violent as any movie in the horror pantheon. It has a plot that is so ridiculous it could’ve only been conceived by Italians. And it also has a cochlea-assaulting soundtrack of 80s cheese metal that is the perfect tonal accompaniment to skidding around on a motorbike hacking zombies.

The etymology of “demons” is from the Greek, daimōn meaning “deity, genius.” So, it took a few thousand years for the word to go from the sublime to the ridiculous. Still, with its power to entertain decades later, Demons is a popcorn movie in the truest sense, especially as it’s set in a movie theater.