When most people today think about horror, the first thing that comes to mind is probably blood, guts, and monsters. Our culture often sees the genre as little more than a cesspool of violence and gore, the lowest form of low-brow entertainment. But we horror fans know that’s not true. Some of the genre’s greatest and most influential films use their horrific elements to convey very uplifting and, dare I say, even wholesome messages. And one of the best at this in recent years is A Quiet Place.
This movie is about a family of four that’s found a way to survive in a post-apocalyptic world where man-eating monsters have taken over the planet, and at the heart of it all is the love these characters have for one another. In particular, the movie shines a special light on Lee Abbott, the father of the family, and it uses him to show us what real fatherhood looks like. He’s not just an inept sitcom dad who lets his wife do all the real parenting. No, Lee is everything a father should be, and since we’ll be celebrating Father’s Day later this month, let’s take a look at some of the key ways A Quiet Place illustrates what fatherhood is really all about.
Loving His Wife
Let’s begin with something a bit counterintuitive. When we think about fatherhood, we normally think about a man’s love for his children, but we’re actually going to start off with Lee’s love for his partner, Evelyn. We’ll talk about how this is relevant in a little bit, but first let’s look at two times in the movie when this love really comes to the fore.
For starters, there’s a scene early on in A Quiet Place where Lee is working in his basement, and Evelyn comes down to see him. He stops what he’s doing, and when she gives him one of her earbuds, they just hold each other and listen to music together. It’s a very simple scene, but the bond between these two characters is palpable, letting you know without a shadow of a doubt that Lee and Evelyn truly love each other. It probably helps that they’re played by real-life spouses Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, so they didn’t have to do any real acting in that regard. They were able to just bask in their love for each other, and it absolutely shines.
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Later on in the film, Lee and his son Marcus go on a fishing trip in the woods, and when they return home, they realize that Evelyn is in danger. Lee tells his son to set off a rocket to draw the monster away, and then without hesitating, he runs into the house with a shotgun, putting himself in danger to save his wife. He knows that he could very well come face to face with one of the monsters, but that doesn’t deter him. He loves his wife so much that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep her safe, even if it means putting his own life on the line.
Those are just two examples, but the love Lee and Evelyn share is tangible throughout A Quiet Place. Sometimes it’s dramatic and in-your-face like in those scenes, but other times they express it in normal, everyday actions that we could easily just take for granted. Either way, their love is always present, and despite what we might think at first, this is actually one of the key reasons why Lee is such a great father.
No matter how much love he showers on his kids, they may not always notice all the sacrifices he makes for them, but they can definitely see the sacrifices he makes for their mother. By loving his partner, he teaches his children what authentic love looks like, and even though that’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind when we think of fatherhood, it’s still an essential part of the job.
Protecting His Kids
Moving on, let’s look at a theme that’s a bit more stereotypically “fatherly.” Throughout A Quiet Place, the topic of Lee protecting his kids comes up in a few conversations, and he puts this talk into action several times as well. For example, there’s a scene where Evelyn tells their son Marcus to go with his father to catch some fish, but he initially refuses. He’s afraid to wander too far from home, so his mother assures him that he’ll be fine because Lee will be there to protect him.
Then, when the pair run into some trouble on the excursion, Lee does exactly what Evelyn said he would. They come across a man whose wife has just been killed by the monsters, and when the man screams in anguish, Lee picks up his son and carries him to safety so the creatures won’t even know they’re around.
Similarly, after they get back from the trip and Lee helps protect Evelyn from the monsters too, the couple have a little talk about their children. They discuss some of their parenting failures in the past, the safety of their kids in the present, and what they need to do in the future. At the end of it all, Evelyn tells Lee to promise her that he’ll protect them, and he nods in agreement, too choked up to say anything more.
This theme pops up a few other times throughout A Quiet Place as well, and with good reason. Protecting your children is arguably the most important part of being a father. Parents need to keep their kids safe in order to even get a chance to fulfill their other responsibilities towards them, and luckily for the Abbott children, Lee is just as great at this part of the job as he is at everything else.
In a world where people put their lives at risk every time they make even the slightest of sounds, he does everything he can to protect his kids from harm. He takes all the necessary precautions to keep the monsters away, and when Regan and Marcus find themselves in unavoidable danger, he doesn’t think twice about doing whatever he can to shield them from the horrors that lurk about, just like any father worth his salt should.
Finally, let’s take a look at the thematic high point of A Quiet Place. While the entire movie is about love, family, and fatherhood, Lee’s final scene encapsulates it all and drives the point home in just about the most effective way possible. It’s the climax of everything that came before it, so to really understand it, we have to start by tracing a narrative thread that begins with the very first scene.
When the film opens, the Abbotts are gathering supplies at an abandoned store. Their youngest son wants to take a toy spaceship, but his parents refuse because it makes too much noise. However, their daughter Regan goes behind their backs and gives it to him anyway, and on the walk back, Lee and Evelyn’s worst fear comes true. As the kid plays with his new toy, it begins to make noise, and despite Lee’s best efforts, a monster comes and whisks the boy away.
Throughout the rest of A Quiet Place, Regan blames herself for her young brother’s death, and she thinks her father has stopped loving her because of it. For example, when Lee and Marcus are out catching fish, they have a brief conversation about this, and Marcus tells his father that he should let Regan know he still loves her. Similarly, towards the end of the movie, when Marcus and Regan are stuck on top of a grain silo, Marcus assures Regan that their father will come for them, but she bitterly responds that he’ll come for Marcus, not for her.
With that background, Lee’s final scene in the film becomes one of the most touching moments the horror genre has ever given us. When he and the kids come face to face with one of the monsters, Lee realizes that he needs to sacrifice himself to give his children a chance to escape. He signs to Regan, “I love you. I have always loved you,” and then he yells so the creature will come kill him and move away from the kids.
This is one of the best scenes in A Quiet Place, and everything in it, including the acting, the music, and even the camerawork, comes together to make its point impossible to miss. Not only does Lee make the ultimate sacrifice to keep his children safe, but he also lets Regan know without a shadow of a doubt that he loves her unconditionally.
He doesn’t care what mistakes she’s made, even though one of them led to the death of his youngest son. He loves her anyway, and he’s still willing to die for her. It truly is one of the most moving moments in horror history, and it shows us not only what true fatherhood looks like, but what true love of any kind looks like.
A Spooky Way to Celebrate Father’s Day
In a culture where fathers like Peter Griffin and Homer Simpson are many people’s de facto role models, A Quiet Place shows us a better way. Lee Abbott teaches us that men can and should be great parents, and he does this with just about every action he takes. Whether he’s teaching his kids what authentic love looks like, protecting them from the dangers that lurk around every corner, or letting them know he loves them with absolutely no conditions, his entire life challenges and inspires fathers everywhere to step up their game and be more like him. He’s a great antidote to the “inept dad” trope that family comedies constantly bombard us with, so if you’re looking for a spooky way to celebrate Father’s Day this year, you can’t do much better than A Quiet Place.