Saturday, December 26, 2020

Christmastide Film Series Reflection | "A Quiet Place"

Emily Blunt as Evelyn Abbott in bathtub delivery scene full HD in "A Quiet Place"

John Krasinksi's breathtaking film, "A Quiet Place," boldly and beautifully captures the wonder, the danger, the helplessness, and the hope of what Christmastide and Childermas are truly seeking to reveal to us.

As I looked, a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman came into view ... She was painfully pregnant and was crying out in the agony of labor. Then a second sign appeared in heaven, ominous, foreboding: a great red dragon ... The dragon crouched in front of the laboring woman, waiting to devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a male child, who is destined to rule the nations ... Before the dragon could bite and devour her son, the child was whisked away and brought to God and His throne. The woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place of refuge and safety ... + Revelation 12:1-6

The Scriptures above not only provide a potentially cosmic glimpse into what followers of Jesus believe happened when He was born more than 2,000 years ago, but these words could also be a description from the script of one of the most pivotal (and frightening) scenes in "A Quiet Place." 

John Krasinksi's horror film was not only my favorite 85 minutes of cinema in 2018 (and I'm not a big horror fan), I would also recommend it as a top 4 Christmas film to view ("A Quiet Place" is free to stream if you have Amazon Prime) during the weeks of Advent and Christmastide heading into Childermas on December 28.

There are many reasons I love to watch "A Quiet Place" during this season as it prepares my soul to understand again not only the danger and determination Jesus endured the first time He arrived, but also how He will meet us again in our current chaos and promise to return to make all things new.

For this post, I want to specifically hone in on one of the most intense scenes in "A Quiet Place," included in Mojo's Top 10 Scariest Scenes, that I think is also one of the greatest Christmas scenes ever seen in cinema in relation to what it was like for Jesus to be born of the virgin Mary into our world on one dark night ...

The "Delivery" Scene in "A Quiet Place" in full HD on YouTube

As the film leads us into a moment of potential delivery or death, the Abbott ("abbott" is a title for the head of a monastery, which derives from the word, "Abba," meaning "Father") family have learned to live in the wilderness in a posture of waiting, watching, and surviving in silence despite the darkness and death that looms around them. They have faced the horror and chosen to hope, their lives in many ways an embodied Magnificat song of resistance and disruption against the so-called "angels of death" (a description of the aliens? demons? that we see in a headline on a newspaper). These monsters are seemingly ruling over the Abbotts lives in every way ready to devour them at any moment, but this family determines to bring new life into this world.

It is now night. Lee and his son Marcus Abbott have been away fishing for the family's food, and the daughter, Regan, is away from the house as well. The pregnant mother, Evelyn, is at home when her water breaks. She tries to send a signal to her family for help, but due to an accident featuring a symbolized stigmata wound to her foot, a crash breaks the stillness with a noise that crescendoes throughout their once tranquil homestead and catches the deadly monsters' attention. Now these beasts are hunting for Evelyn as she leans over in intense labor, her foot punctured and bleeding. 

As Evelyn hides and limps, distracting one of the beasts and then climbing the stairs to her second floor bathroom to attempt to deliver the baby on her own, she flips the lights outside to red to warn the rest of her family that the monsters are near. The night sky now showcases flashes of crimson across the lush green landscape, breaking in the colors of Christmas in this moment of dread, a last spark of hope in the growing nightmare.

Emily Blunt as Evelyn Abbott in bathtub delivery scene in "A Quiet Place"

Evelyn makes it into the tub just in time for red blood to flow from her body across the white surface as she prepares for transition and delivery. This strong mother is breathing heavy, seeking to hold in every scream, making this place of holy, shocking birth as safe as possible even in the midst of the fury and fear. But in the background, one of the monsters is climbing the stairs behind her, tearing apart the walls with ferocious intent, ominous and foreboding.

The camera stays with Evelyn and zooms in on her face as the light bulb above her flickers and the darkness closes in around her, seeking to consume her hope as much as this post-apocalyptic dragon is preparing to devour her. As you stare at what is about to occur, Isaiah 60:2 captures the ominous threat of the moment well ...

Look carefully—darkness blankets the earth; people all over are cloaked in darkness ...

Will there be a light to break in to this moment cloaked in darkness? Will the ... dragon crouched in front of the laboring woman, waiting to devour her child the moment it was born (Revelation 12:4) ... consume both Evelyn and her baby? Or, as the Gospel of John describes the Christmas moment, does light shine in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5)?

Emily Blunt as Evelyn Abbott in bathtub delivery scene in "A Quiet Place"

As Evelyn prepares to scream her Magnificat, belting her Advent song into the face of seemingly imminent death, will she be met with an arrival of joy or terror? And then suddenly, an explosion of sound and light combines, breaking into the night sky and ...

It's Christmas.

... But God will rise and shine on you; the Eternal’s bright glory will shine on you, a light for all to see (Isaiah 60:2).

If you plan to watch the film, or already have and want some more background to other poignant spiritual allusions and symbolism, check out how Bishop Barron Comments on "A Quiet Place" (SPOILERS) on YouTube. He eloquently unpacks much of what I admired after my first suspense-filled viewing, which skyrocketed this tale into my Top 10 favorite films.

P.S. For a bonus, there is also a sacramental scene in "A Quiet Place" that captures the mystery and power of household baptism (Acts 2:38-3916:15, 331 Corinthians 1:16, 7:14) to remind us how we are graciously seen by God and sheltered together in the face of death ... but that is a synopsis for another time.

Emily Blunt as Evelyn Abbott in Flooded Basement scene in HD in "A Quiet Place"

Next post: Prep for Childermas Coming Monday, December 28, 2020 | Light Shines More Brightly Against Brutal Darkness

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike “Sully” Sullivan

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