How Melbourne became A Quiet Place and now I’m stuck in a horror movie

A Quiet Place II just came out in the cinemas. It’s a horror movie about Earth getting invaded by gruesome-looking aliens with faces that open up like an incontinent flappy sphincter – or if that’s too gross, like one of those origami kiddies’ games where you lift up the paper-folds to find out who you secretly love. It all depends on how you look at things. Personally, I’m for the sphincter.

The unique thing about these aliens is, they have really bad eyesight but amazing hearing: I believe they’re based on the same biology as my mother, who is extremely shortsighted but her hearing is super-powerful – all through my childhood, any time I got up at night for a pee, I’d come back to my room and my bed was made.

Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) brave the unknown in A Quiet Place Part II.

So because these aliens have mother-level hearing, humans have to stay completely silent if they want to survive – that’s why the entire movie only has a few lines of dialogue, with most of the script probably being the written description: “Close up on people’s feet tiptoeing. More tiptoeing. Faster tiptoeing!!”

I saw A Quiet Place II a week and a half ago, and the next morning I was plunged into my very own real-life horror movie called A Quiet Place II: Return to Lockdown. It’s the sequel to last year’s A Quiet Place: Months and Months of Lockdown, But It’ll Never Happen Again, That’s It, We’re Done, Right?

Day 1: Woke up to silence. No traffic noises. Streets are empty and eerie. Just the gentle hum of nature: birds and breezes and the haunting scritch-scritch of pens scratching out upcoming events from kitchen wall-calendars. Today I huddled in front of the laundry room cupboard and organised my lightbulbs into categories: incandescent, halogen, LED, and those big spiral-tubed ones that look like excrement from a glass dog. A time-consuming process: there are at least 20 lightbulbs here. I try different configurations. Still not happy.

Day 2: Woke up to silence. Nothing. No signs of human existence. And then, suddenly, at 8am exactly, about five-thousand small reno-jobs started up in about seven nearby homes. Thankfully an amusing incident lifted my spirits: I’d bought a doormat online and it finally arrived today – it came in a package that said “Delivery instructions: leave near front door”. And it was a doormat! I really wanted to laugh, but no, I just smiled silently, because it was funny, but not that funny.

Shhh: Melbourne’s extended lockdown.Credit:Daniel Pockett

Days 3 – 5: Woke up to silence. Have been watching SBS movies to pass the time but paranoia is kicking in – I’m starting to wonder if the actors are saying the same thing as the subtitles. Sometimes the subtitles have an English word, like “England”, and I always wait for the actor to say “England”, but then … they don’t. I think the movie-subtitlers are just writing made-up nonsense. It’s a trick! It’s a trick!

Day 6: Woke up to silence. Bravely ventured outside for a walk with my dog and learned an important life-lesson. Wherever you go, you should always walk tall and proud and look people directly in the eye … unless you’re walking through an off-lead dog park. Then walk slowly and tentatively, stooped over, peering closely at the ground.

Day 7: Woke up to silence. Nothing but the sound of the little kids next door, drawing chalk pictures on their front footpath – the agonisingly-loud noise of chalk-scraping cuts through the brisk morning air. Shushhh kids, go easy on the chalk! – and stop that delighted giggling too! More terrible developments: another horror movie sequel has just been released. A Quiet Place III: Seven More Days of This, Oh Crap, And What Then? What Then?

Danny Katz is a Melbourne humorist.

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