A QUIET PLACE…WELL THOUGHT OUT AND SUSPENSEFUL

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A Quiet Place (film)

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A Quiet Place
The film poster shows a close-up of Emily Blunt in-character with her hand over her mouth.

Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Krasinski
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Bryan Woods
  • Scott Beck
Starring
Music by Marco Beltrami
Cinematography Charlotte Bruus Christensen
Edited by Christopher Tellefsen
Production
companies
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • March 9, 2018 (2018-03-09) (SXSW)
  • April 6, 2018 (2018-04-06) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language
Budget $17 million[2][3][4]
Box office $151.3 million[3]

A Quiet Place is a 2018 American horror film directed by John Krasinski, who stars alongside real-life spouse Emily Blunt. The film is produced by Michael Bay‘s company, Platinum Dunes, which is also owned by Andrew Form and Bradley Fuller. The screenplay was written by Krasinski, Bryan Woods, and Scott Beck, based on a story by Woods and Beck. The plot follows a family who must live life in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt exclusively by sound.

Beck and Woods began working on the story in 2013, and Paramount Pictures bought their spec script in 2017. Krasinski then joined as director and wrote a new draft of the script. Principal photography took place later in the year in upstate New York.

A Quiet Place premiered at South by Southwest on March 9, 2018 and was released in the United States on April 6, 2018, by Paramount Pictures. It has grossed $151 million worldwide and received universal acclaim from critics, who called it a “smart, wickedly frightening good time.”[5]

Plot[edit]

In 2020, an invasive predatory species of unknown origin has replaced humans at the top of the food chain. The creatures are large, fast, and have a nearly impenetrable armor shell which protects their entire bodies. The creatures can’t see or smell but have incredible hearing acuity—which they use to hunt their prey. Birds and fish are apparently safe from their grasp but within three months of their arrival nearly all land animals, including humans, on Earth have been wiped out. The Abbott family—husband Lee, wife Evelyn, sons Marcus and Beau, and deaf daughter Regan—scavenge for supplies while communicating non-verbally through American Sign Language. Lee relieves Beau of a toy space shuttle, warning him that its noise could attract the creatures. However, Regan returns the toy to Beau, who secretly restores its batteries. On their way home, Beau activates the toy, causing a loud noise. Lee tries to run back to grab him, but he is too late as the monster snatches Beau as soon as he gets close.

A year later, the family is living on their farm. Regan still struggles with the guilt of her brother’s death and Evelyn is in the final stages of pregnancy. Lee repairs Regan’s cochlear implant, but the device fails to restore her hearing. Later, Lee takes Marcus to a nearby river to teach him to fish despite Regan begging to go instead. Dejected, she goes off on her own to visit Beau’s grave and stays there until nightfall. Lee explains to Marcus that they will always be safe from the creatures so long as louder sounds mask their audible movements.

Meanwhile, Evelyn goes into labor. While making her way to the basement, she steps on a nail. In agony, she accidentally drops a glass picture frame, alerting a nearby creature. Evelyn warns Lee and Marcus of danger by flipping a switch that changes the house’s lights from white to red, while struggling to remain silent during contractions. Arriving at the farm and seeing the lights, Lee instructs Marcus to create a diversion while Lee runs to find Evelyn. He finds her hiding in the bathroom with their newborn son and narrowly avoids another attack while carrying them to their specially-modified soundproof basement. Evelyn begs Lee to find the children in the cornfield and he obeys. After falling asleep, Evelyn wakes up to discover that the basement is flooded with water from a leaking pipe, with a creature in pursuit.

Regan hurries back to the farm. She and Marcus take refuge atop a nearby grain silo, lighting a fire to alert their father to their whereabouts. A hatch door gives way and Marcus falls into the silo, sinking into the corn, nearly suffocating before Regan jumps in and saves him. They avoid further danger by clinging to the fallen silo door and survive a subsequent creature attack by hiding under it. Regan’s repaired cochlear implant reacts to the proximity of the creature by emitting a piercingly loud high-frequency sound that drives the creature off. The children escape from the silo and reunite with Lee.

The creature returns and Lee attacks it with a pulaski while Marcus and Regan hide in a pickup truck. Lee is wounded and Marcus inadvertently shouts, attracting the creature to the truck. Lee uses sign language to tell Regan and Marcus that he loves them before sacrificing himself to draw the creature away from his children. Regan and Marcus roll the truck down a hill to escape and reunite with Evelyn and the baby at the farmhouse.

Regan, not having been allowed in the basement previously, sees her father’s notes on the creatures and his experimentation with several different implants, as well as radio equipment and security camera monitors. When the creature returns to invade the basement, Regan places the boosted cochlear implant on a nearby microphone, magnifying the feedback to ward off the creature. Painfully disoriented, the creature exposes the flesh beneath its armored head, rendering itself vulnerable to a shotgun blast from Evelyn. The security monitors show the two other creatures approaching. With their newly acquired knowledge of the creatures’ weakness, Evelyn and the children prepare to fight back.

Cast[edit]

  • Emily Blunt as Evelyn Abbott, the mother of Regan, Marcus and Beau and the wife of Lee. She is a doctor and is pregnant with their fourth child at the start of the film. Krasinski describes her character wanting to ensure their children “be fully-formed, fully-thinking people”.[6]
  • John Krasinski as Lee Abbott, the father of Regan, Marcus and Beau, the husband of Evelyn, and an engineer. Krasinski described his character as a survivalist who focuses on getting his family through each day.[6]
  • Millicent Simmonds as Regan Abbott, Lee and Evelyn’s deaf daughter, and Marcus and Beau’s sister. Krasinski said he sought a deaf actress, “… for many reasons, I didn’t want a non-deaf actress pretending to be deaf. Most importantly though, because a deaf actress would help my knowledge and my understanding of the situations tenfold. I wanted someone who lives it and who could teach me about it on set.”[6]
  • Noah Jupe as Marcus Abbott, the oldest son of Lee and Evelyn, and Regan and Beau’s brother. Krasinski noticed Jupe in the 2016 miniseries The Night Manager and later got to see an early screening of the 2017 film Suburbicon to evaluate Jupe’s performance.[6]
  • Cade Woodward as Beau Abbott, the youngest son of Lee and Evelyn, and Regan and Marcus’s brother.
  • Evangelina & Ezekiel Cavoli as newborn baby Abbott, the baby to whom Evelyn Abbott gave birth.

Production[edit]

Development and writing[edit]

A Quiet Place is a production of Sunday Night and Platinum Dunes;[7] it was produced on a budget of $21 million.[8] Krasinski wrote the screenplay with story co-writers Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. Beck and Woods grew up together in the US state of Iowa and in college had watched numerous silent films. By 2013, they began working on the story that would lead to the film. They used their experience growing up close to farmland as the basis for the story, also including a grain silo setting as a place considered dangerous in their upbringing. They initiated their approach with a 15-page proof of concept.[9] Initially, the writers had considered developing the film into being a Cloverfield installment, but after pitching their ideas to the studio collectively all of those involved decided to keep the film as its own entity.[10]

In January 2016, Beck and Woods began writing A Quiet Place in earnest.[11] Krasinski read their spec script in the following July,[12] and it appealed to him with the concept of parents protecting their children, especially since he and his wife, actress Emily Blunt, had had their second child at the time.[6] Blunt encouraged him to direct the film.[12] By March 2017, Paramount bought Beck and Woods’s spec script. The studio hired Krasinski to rewrite the script and to direct the film, which was his third directorial credit and his first for a major studio.[13] Krasinski cited cinematic influences including Alien (1979), No Country for Old Men (2007), and In the Bedroom (2001) when writing a new draft.[14] Blunt read Krasinski’s draft and asked him if she could be cast opposite him in the film.[12] He agreed, and they were both cast in the starring roles of the film.[13]

Filming[edit]

The Springtown Truss Bridge on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, used as a location in the film

Production took place from May to November 2017 in Dutchess and Ulster counties in upstate New York. Filmmakers spent their budget locally, including a purchase of 20 tons of corn which they hired local farmers to grow. Some filming took place on a soundstage in the town of Pawling in Dutchess County as well as on-location in the county’s city of Beacon. [15] Filming also took place on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in New Paltz in Ulster County, using the Springtown Truss Bridge.[16] Outside Dutchess and Ulster counties, filming also took place on Main Street in Little Falls in Herkimer County, New York.[17]

Sound and music[edit]

During filming, the crew avoided making noise so diegetic background sounds (e.g., the sound of rolling dice on a game board) could be recorded; the sounds were amplified in post-production. A traditional musical score was also added to the film, which Krasinski justified for audiences to remain familiar with watching the film and not feel like being part of a “silence experiment”.[18]

Supervising sound editors Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn worked on A Quiet Place. For scenes from the perspective of the deaf daughter, sound was removed to put greater focus on the visual. They also advised on organizing shots to reflect the creatures’ perspective, like showing them notice a sound, then showing what was causing the sound. Composer Marco Beltrami provided the sound editors music to work with in a way that would not interfere with the sound design throughout the film.[19]

In the film, creatures are blind and communicate through clicking sounds. Aadahl and Van der Ryn said they were inspired by animal echolocation, such as that employed by bats. The sound of feedback, normally avoided by sound editors, was woven into the story at a loudness level that would not bother audiences too much.[20]

Use of sign language[edit]

Since the characters communicate in American Sign Language to avoid making sound, filmmakers hired deaf mentor Douglas Ridloff to teach ASL to the actors and to be available to make corrections. The filmmakers also hired an ASL interpreter for deaf actress Simmonds so spoken and signed language could be interpreted back and forth on set.[21] Simmonds, who grew up with ASL, helped teach her fellow actors to sign.[22] She said of the need to practice ASL, “In the movie, we’ve been signing together for years and years. So it should look fluent.”[23] She observed that the way the others used their sign language reflected their characters’ motivations; the father had short and brief signs that showed his survival mentality, while the mother had more expressive signs as part of her wanting her children to experience more than survival.[24] Krasinski said Simmonds’s character was “a little bit of the warrior princess, the black sheep in the family” and that she used “signing that’s very defiant, it’s very teenage defiant”.[25]

Simmonds said for a scene in which her character fights with her father in sign language, she suggested for the daughter to rebel rather than cower as in the script. She also said at the end of the film, the script originally had the father sign to his daughter “I love you”, but she suggested for him to follow with “I’ve always loved you” to make up for their arguing earlier in the film.[26]

The producers Andrew Form and Bradley Fuller said they initially planned not to provide on-screen subtitles for sign-language dialogue with “context clues” but realized that for the scene in which the deaf daughter and her hearing father argue about the modified hearing aid, subtitles were necessary. The producers subsequently added subtitles for all sign-language dialogue in the film. Producer Brad Fuller said, “And I think once you put one subtitle in, you subtitle the whole movie. You don’t take liberties like, ‘Oh they probably know what I love you is, but we don’t subtitle it.’ It’s just gonna live everywhere and that’s the world we live by.”[27]

Creature design[edit]

Production designer Jeffrey Beecroft headed the creature design, and special effects supervisor Scott Farrar created the creatures. The director wanted the creature to look like they had evolved to no longer need eyes and to be “somewhat humanoid” in nature. Farrar said the initial creature design showed them with rhinoceros-like horns out of their faces, but it underwent a redesign. Vanity Fair reported, “The team immediately set about pulling references; prehistoric fish, black snakes, and bats, particularly their movement patterns. Inspiration was also drawn from bog people: cadavers that have been mummified in peat, turning the skin black and giving it a sagging, leathery look.”[28]

Marketing[edit]

Paramount Pictures released the first trailer for A Quiet Place in November 2017.[29] It aired a 30-second commercial for the film during the US football playoff Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018.[30] Of the seven trailers that aired during the playoff, A Quiet Place and Red Sparrow aired during the pregame and had the lowest views and social conversations. A Quiet Place had 149,000 views on YouTube, 275,000 videos on Facebook, and 2,900 social conversations.[31][32] On February 12, 2018, Krasinski appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to present the full trailer for A Quiet Place.[33]

Release[edit]

A Quiet Place premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival as the opening-night film on March 9, 2018.[34] It was selected from 2,458 submissions,[35] and earned “raves” from critics, according to IndieWire.[36] Following its premiere, the film experienced social media growth to under 52 million views across multiple platforms, outpacing Get Out (2017), which had 46.9 million views.[8]

Box office forecast[edit]

The Tracking Board reported on March 14, “The stellar reviews out of SXSW, coupled with the fact that there isn’t anything like it in the marketplace, should help it stand out among its bigger-budget competition.”[37] Deadline Hollywood said on March 15 that it is projected to gross around $20 million in its opening weekend.[8] Variety reported on March 27 that the film “is tracking to open between” $16 million and $30 million,[38] which reached a basement of low-$20 million by the week of its release.[39]

BoxOffice initially estimated on February 9, 2018 that A Quiet Place would gross $17 million in its opening weekend and that it would gross a total of $60 million in the United States.[40] By March 30, it increased its estimate to an opening weekend gross of $27.5 million and a US total gross of $85 million.[41] The magazine said the film’s trailer was well-received online and that it appeared frequently in previews for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. BoxOffice wrote, “The horror genre has also shown a knack for over-performing against expectations at the box office in recent years, setting this release up for potential success.” It said A Quiet Place would have to compete against another horror film, Truth or Dare, which would be released the following weekend.[40] The magazine’s staff drew “very favorable” comparisons between A Quiet Place and the 2016 films 10 Cloverfield Lane and Don’t Breathe.[42]

Theatrical run[edit]

As of April 15, 2018[update], A Quiet Place has grossed $99.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $51.7 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $151.3 million.[3] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “B+” on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it an 81% overall positive score and a 63% “definite recommend”.[4]

Paramount Pictures released the film in 3,508 theaters in the United States and Canada on April 6, 2018, alongside Blockers, Chappaquiddick, and The Miracle Season.[43] It made $19 million on its first day (including $4.3 million from Thursday night previews at 2,750 theaters), increasing weekend projections to $47 million. Unlike most horror films which are front-loaded on Friday and suffer drops the rest of the weekend, A Quiet Place made $19.1 million on Saturday. It went on to debut to $50.2 million, topping the box office and marking the biggest opening for a Paramount film since Star Trek Beyond in July 2016.[4] To that point, it was second biggest domestic debut of 2018 behind Black Panther.[44] The film made $32.6 million in its second weekend, dropping just 35% (better than the typical 50+% that horror films normally see) and finishing second at the box office behind newcomer Rampage ($34.5 million).[45]

Through its first two weeks of international release the film had made $51.7 million, with its top markets being the United Kingdom ($9.2 million), Mexico ($5.1 million), Australia ($4.6 million), Brazil ($3.9 million) and Taiwan ($1.9 million). It also debuted to $2.2 million in Russia, the biggest-ever opening for a Paramount horror film in the country.[46]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 95% based on 233 reviews, and an average rating of 8.2/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “A Quiet Place artfully plays on elemental fears with a ruthlessly intelligent creature feature that’s as original as it is scary—and establishes director John Krasinski as a rising talent.”[47] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 82 out of 100, based on 54 critics, indicating “universal acclaim”.[48]

Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, saying, “The question Krasinski tackles is what defines a family and what’s needed to preserve it? ‘Who are we,’ asks Mom, ‘if we can’t protect our children?’ The answers are worked out with satisfying complexity and genuine feeling, proving indeed that home is where family is. This new horror classic will fry your nerves to a frazzle.”[49] The Hollywood Reporters John DeFore described the film as “a terrifying thriller with a surprisingly warm heart” and said, “You might have to go back to Jeff Nichols’ 2011 Take Shelter to find a film that has used the fantastic this well to convey the combination of fear and responsibility a good parent feels.”[50]

Varietys Owen Gleiberman said, “A Quiet Place is a tautly original genre-bending exercise, technically sleek and accomplished, with some vivid, scary moments, though it’s a little too in love with the stoned logic of its own premise.”[7] Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 2.5 out of 4 stars and said, “My favorite moment, an encounter between Regan and one of the monsters in a cornfield, plays with sound and image and tension, creatively. Other bits are more shameless…I don’t know if I’d call A Quiet Place enjoyable; it’s more grueling than cathartic.”[51]

Social commentary[edit]

Speaking of the various political and social commentary the film encouraged, John Krasinski said, “The best compliment you can get on any movie is that it starts a conversation. The fact that people are leaving and talking about anything is really fun—but certainly about deep stuff like that, is awesome.”[52] Krasinski, who did not grow up with horror films, said that prior films of the genre such as Don’t Breathe (2016) and Get Out (2017) that had societal commentary were part of his research when preparing for A Quiet Place. In addition to considering his film a metaphor for parenthood, he compared the premise to the US politics in 2018, “I think in our political situation, that’s what’s going on now: You can close your eyes and stick your head in the sand, or you can try to participate in whatever’s going on.” He cited Jaws (1975) as an influence with how the protagonist cop moved from New York to an island to avoid scary situations and was forced to encounter one in his new location with shark attacks.[53]

Matthew Monagle of Film School Rejects said A Quiet Place seemed to be “the early frontrunner for the sparsely intellectual horror movie of the year” like previous horror films The Babadook (2014) and The Witch (2015). Monagle said Krasinski, who had directed two previous films, was “making an unusual pivot into a genre typically reserved for newcomers” and considered it to be part of a movement toward, rather than away from, horror films with such films layering “in storytelling, and character beats not typically found in a horror movie”.[54] Tatiana Tenreyro, writing for Bustle, said while A Quiet Place was not a silent film, “It is the first of its kind within the modern horror genre for how little spoken dialogue it actually has.” She said the rare moments of spoken dialogue “give depth to this horror movie, showing how the narrative defies the genre’s traditional films even further”.[55]

Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com said that A Quiet Place is “Krasinski’s breakthrough as a triple-threat entertainer, but it’s been a long time coming … By no accident, he’s tackled the horror genre while relying on the unique strength that can be seen throughout his acting work, and one that has made him relatable as an everyman across TV and film—expressive silence.”[56]

Bishop Robert Barron was surprised by strikingly religious themes in the film. He likens the family’s primitive, agrarian life of silence to monasticism, and commends their self-giving love. Barron notes the pervasive pro-life themes, especially in the choices of the parents as Mrs. Abbot risks everything to give birth to a child, and her husband lays down his own life so that the children can live.[57] Sonny Bunch of the Washington Post also comments and expands on that pro-life message.[58]

Films with little or no dialogue

The British Film Institute listed the following noteworthy films with little or no dialogue:[59]

Also:

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