Welcome one and all to Flixist’s new end of the year awards program, the Golden Cages! With Hollywood becoming increasingly out of touch with what the people like, we at Flixist have taken it upon ourselves to deliver the fair, balanced, dignity-filled awards you deserve. Why are we delivering our 2018 awards so late in the year? Because the Oscars do it and we’re better than them. The winners of the Golden Cages will be spread out over the next two weeks, right before the hostless Academy Awards.
Getting people to shut up during a movie is a rare feat. Horror films can be an especially difficult theater experience, as most people don’t go to the theater looking have their guts wrenched. They go with friends or dates and are usually in search of a good time, the jerks. This leads to the customary chatter, inappropriate laughter, shouts at the screen, or whatever it might take to break the tension. I once sat through an entire screening of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre with a man who laughed every time anything happened. A door opened at one point, and he cracked right he hell up, slapping his thigh, tears running down his cheeks. He might have been high, but my point still stands. A normal crowd of everyday folks shutting their gobs for an hour-and-a-half is a fantasy. Because of this, a movie like A Quiet Place should fall apart, should be an absolute disaster with every theater noise amplified by long stretches of pure silence.
And yet not only does A Quiet Place not collapse under the weight of our collective desire to have a good time at a movie, it changes the theater experience as a whole. I instantly regretted buying popcorn at my showing. Normally, I’d hold my greasy palm over my lips smacking and crunching away until the credits rolled, but during A Quiet Place I slowly crushed each piece. I heard my own mouth working in the silence of the theater. I’ve never had a movie change the way I eat before.
This isn’t to mention the innumerable pressures for the family on screen. They struggle to hunt and scavenge in a world where any single noise brings these maniac spider monsters blasting out of the ether to snatch away people in the blink of an eye. When you step on a nail and then have to quietly give birth in a bathtub because an alien creature is hunting through your home, you know you’re having a rough life. Then, you have to put that baby into essentially a sound-proof coffin, so it won’t cry and attract the beast. This is one very fucked up, very horrifying world that certainly earns its scares.
Beyond being a brilliantly intense look at a family coping with loss, new life, and the drag of the every day in a world built as if it were from an episode of The Twilight Zone, A Quiet Place creates a metaphysical terror. A woman a few rows back from me had brought her child with her. The child would’ve been just fine in any other movie, but here his every move and word needed a shushing, and while watching a giant spider pluck a little boy off the ground to never be seen again, I couldn’t help but wonder how that woman felt knowing that there was no earthly way her child would survive.
A Quiet Place poses an ingenious concept and executes it in a remarkable manner which made going to the movies feel fundamentally different. That’s a huge accomplishment worth of this year’s Golden Cage. Let’s just hope they don’t beat this into the dollar bin with a litany of half-baked sequels.