Review: In John Krasinski’s ‘A Quiet Place,’ Silence Means Survival


True to its title, John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place” tiptoes forward, camera fixed on the naked, padding feet of the Abbott family as they scavenge in a deserted supermarket. A title card announces Day 89 — of what, we don’t know — so we look for clues. Lee and Evelyn (Mr. Krasinski and his real-life wife, Emily Blunt) and their three children communicate urgently in sign language, and the youngest child’s interest in a battery-operated toy causes immediate alarm. Their fear is palpable, but what are they afraid of?

Thanks to that darned toy, we’re about to find out, in a perfectly executed attack sequence that establishes the stakes, and the family’s plight, with swift efficiency. Now minus one and watched by flapping posters of other missing souls, the Abbotts return to their farm as the story (by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck) leaps forward more than a year. Evelyn is now preparing to give birth, Lee is teaching his son (Noah Jupe) to forage, and their daughter (played by the remarkable young deaf actor, Millicent Simmonds) is angrily chafing against her parents’ protectiveness.

Photo

Emily Blunt in the film, which was directed by Mr. Krasinski.

Credit
Paramount Pictures

A welcome alternative to the mind-shredding din of virtually any modern action movie, “A Quiet Place” is an old-fashioned creature feature with a single, simple hook: The creatures are blind, hungry and navigate by sound. Possessed of craniums that roll open to expose a pulsing, wet membrane, they’re like skittering ear holes with pointy teeth and clattering appendages. Drawing from a variety of heritage horrors, including “Alien” and “Predator,” their design is familiar yet effective, their origin kept shrouded. Extraterrestrial beings or man-made weapons gone rogue, they’re a mystery whose source the movie wisely recognizes as irrelevant.

Video

Trailer: ‘A Quiet Place’

A preview of the film.


By PARAMOUNT on Publish Date March 26, 2018.


Photo by Paramount Pictures.

Employing a narrative shorthand of news clippings, briefly whispered exchanges and critically placed devices — like a tiny oxygen mask to silence the new baby, and good luck with that — Mr. Krasinski (who helped write the screenplay) directs with skill and restraint. He knows that when the sound is turned down, we lean in, and he forces us to pay attention to facial expressions in a way that hearing audiences are rarely required to do. Welcoming this scrutiny, the actors emote like champs: Watching Ms. Simmonds cycle through hurt, doubt, anger and acceptance is one of the movie’s singular pleasures.

Photographed by Charlotte Bruus Christensen in soft, slightly faded tones that suggest a world slowly being erased, this stripped-down thriller operates from a central conceit that’s far from uncommon. From “The Walking Dead” to the Emmy-nominated “Hush,” a 1999 episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in which spindly supernatural killers steal people’s voices, the relationship between silence and survival has been repeatedly explored. More recently, movies like “It Follows” and “The Babadook” have used the absence of sound to create dreamy sequences that throb with unspoken menace.

Continue reading the main story

Review: In John Krasinski’s ‘A Quiet Place,’ Silence Means Survival


True to its title, John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place” tiptoes forward, camera fixed on the naked, padding feet of the Abbott family as they scavenge in a deserted supermarket. A title card announces Day 89 — of what, we don’t know — so we look for clues. Lee and Evelyn (Mr. Krasinski and his real-life wife, Emily Blunt) and their three children communicate urgently in sign language, and the youngest child’s interest in a battery-operated toy causes immediate alarm. Their fear is palpable, but what are they afraid of?

Thanks to that darned toy, we’re about to find out, in a perfectly executed attack sequence that establishes the stakes, and the family’s plight, with swift efficiency. Now minus one and watched by flapping posters of other missing souls, the Abbotts return to their farm as the story (by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck) leaps forward more than a year. Evelyn is now preparing to give birth, Lee is teaching his son (Noah Jupe) to forage, and their daughter (played by the remarkable young deaf actor, Millicent Simmonds) is angrily chafing against her parents’ protectiveness.

Photo

Emily Blunt in the film, which was directed by Mr. Krasinski.

Credit
Paramount Pictures

A welcome alternative to the mind-shredding din of virtually any modern action movie, “A Quiet Place” is an old-fashioned creature feature with a single, simple hook: The creatures are blind, hungry and navigate by sound. Possessed of craniums that roll open to expose a pulsing, wet membrane, they’re like skittering ear holes with pointy teeth and clattering appendages. Drawing from a variety of heritage horrors, including “Alien” and “Predator,” their design is familiar yet effective, their origin kept shrouded. Extraterrestrial beings or man-made weapons gone rogue, they’re a mystery whose source the movie wisely recognizes as irrelevant.

Video

Trailer: ‘A Quiet Place’

A preview of the film.


By PARAMOUNT on Publish Date March 26, 2018.


Photo by Paramount Pictures.

Employing a narrative shorthand of news clippings, briefly whispered exchanges and critically placed devices — like a tiny oxygen mask to silence the new baby, and good luck with that — Mr. Krasinski (who helped write the screenplay) directs with skill and restraint. He knows that when the sound is turned down, we lean in, and he forces us to pay attention to facial expressions in a way that hearing audiences are rarely required to do. Welcoming this scrutiny, the actors emote like champs: Watching Ms. Simmonds cycle through hurt, doubt, anger and acceptance is one of the movie’s singular pleasures.

Photographed by Charlotte Bruus Christensen in soft, slightly faded tones that suggest a world slowly being erased, this stripped-down thriller operates from a central conceit that’s far from uncommon. From “The Walking Dead” to the Emmy-nominated “Hush,” a 1999 episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in which spindly supernatural killers steal people’s voices, the relationship between silence and survival has been repeatedly explored. More recently, movies like “It Follows” and “The Babadook” have used the absence of sound to create dreamy sequences that throb with unspoken menace.

Continue reading the main story

Making the Sound of Silence in ‘A Quiet Place’


In the horror film “A Quiet Place,” a family is afraid of themselves going bump in the night.

The postapocalyptic tale, which opens April 6, is propelled by one central menace: creatures with enhanced hearing that attack when they detect noise. Living isolated in the woods, a couple and their children have crafted a very hushed existence to keep the threat at bay: they walk barefoot, communicate via sign language, and play Monopoly with cotton game pieces.

When characters have to keep mum to stay alive, sound design can go to some innovative places. Anxious moments are created from the slightest creaks of a floor, footsteps on sand or even a heartbeat. Being inventive with sound, and frequently with the absence of it, was the idea that propelled the director, John Krasinski, who also stars in the movie with his wife, Emily Blunt.

“We live in a world now where you see all these movies, like Marvel movies, and there’s so much sound going on, so many explosions,” Mr. Krasinski said during an interview in New York. I love those movies, but there’s something about all that noise that assaults you, in a way. We thought, what if you pulled it all back? Would that make it feel just as disconcerting and just as uncomfortable and tense?”

Photo

The filmmakers worked to get the right level of feedback, an aural element of the plot. “We thought, is this too much?” the director and star John Krasinski said. “Will people find this more of an audible experiment and not a movie?”

Credit
Heather Sten for The New York Times

To help make quiet frightening, Mr. Krasinski worked with the sound editors Ethan Van Der Ryn and Erik Aadahl, who have experience with the loud (“Godzilla”) and the louder (“Transformers”), but were interested in taking things down more than a few notches.

They worked to create what they called “sound envelopes,” putting audiences in a character’s shoes to hear what they hear and how they might hear it. The most intriguing one was for the young Regan, who is deaf and played by the deaf actress Millicent Simmonds. Regan wears a cochlear implant that gives her extremely minimal hearing; she has more of a physical sense of presence than an auditory one. For that, the editors wanted to mimic the feeling of being in an anechoic chamber, a room that absorbs sound to the point where all you can hear are the heightened noises of your own body. Regan’s envelope is rendered with a kind of low, muffled feel punctuated by the gentle pulse of her heart. But when she takes the hearing aid out, we experience a moment of complete screen silence, an idea that Mr. Krasinski debated with his colleagues.

Continue reading the main story