“Birdbox” and “A Quiet Place” are recent horror movies featuring parents trying to protect children in a world full of monsters. What is interesting to me is how often I’ve heard both horror movies considered an allegory for modern parenting.

In “Birdbox”, Sandra Bullock’s character and her friend Tom are raising two kids in a world where seeing the demons/monsters/aliens drives most to suicide and a few to madness. She was pregnant via a failed relationship and didn’t really connect with them until they reached a seemingly safe haven. (It is so bad the kids don’t have names until the end of the movie.) One explanation for the movie is that Sandra Bullock is a Tiger Mom, but even she admits she is, to quote a Guardian article, powerless against the dangers of the world. You want perfection, but you have to fight the chaos just to create some semblance of structure and safety.

In “A Quiet Place”, a loud noise will attract nearly indestructible aliens that will kill you. A traditional mother-father-kids family is surviving on a farm. You can understand why they want to stay at the farm. It isn’t just home but a source of food. This explains why they can signal and see other farms light up, though no one else can fight the aliens. “A Quiet Place” is notable for being one of the most pro-life movies in years. The parents lose their youngest child after most of the human race was already killed, and they choose to have another one. They plan to protect a crying baby from the monsters in myriad ways, though you’d think they’d have fixed that stupid nail sticking up …

In an article by “New Statesmen America”, “A Quiet Place” represents the terror of parenthood. Children by their very nature are vulnerable and, by extension, make us vulnerable. The crying newborn would obviously attract murderous aliens. So does a young child playing with a noisy toy or a child speaking too loudly in the wrong place. Even the naturally silent deaf child has her vulnerabilities, since she cannot hear sounds she makes by knocking things over, though she carries with her a possible solution…

The moral of this story is that there are dangers, you will face losses, but you have to keep trying and fighting for the sake of your family. It also encapsulates the sacrifices we make for our children.

“The Ringer” proposes that “Hereditary” is about the nightmare of losing a child though we may resent them. It also demonstrates the emotional baggage that can be passed from mother to daughter that interferes in healthy relationships of the next generation. Then again, this legacy in “Hereditary” is demonic and pretty much kills everyone, but hey, it is a horror movie.

All of these horror films represent a distinct shift from the standard “OMG, everybody’s dying from X, random group of strangers survive” plotline. They also demonstrate that the movie industry has used up most plots involving scared teens and random adults and had to return to classic themes to come up with something that to them and the audience seems new.