Making the Sound of Silence in 'A Quiet Place'

John Krasinski Says A U.K. Customs Agent Was Shocked To Find Out He Was Married To Emily Blunt

Let's start with a popcorn warning. That is the insane premise of the upcoming horror film A Quiet Place helmed by John Krasinski starring himself and Emily Blunt.

The movie is darkly amusing in a way that reminded me of a classic we all know and love: Tremors. Instead of sound having to be amplified to be scary, any sound here has the power to cut right through you. Unless you were standing by a waterfall. However, with its speedy runtime, the film would have benefitted from fifteen more minutes of character development. Every week for all four of his years at Brown, he would ask his group of friends to give him an album or a movie recommendation, helping him grow from a high schooler "who had never seen a movie that wasn't in a Cineplex or listened to music that wasn't on the radio" to the actor, director and producer he is today. It's odd to me that a monster with hypersensitive hearing who silently stalks its prey is so loud when it takes a victim. It's a monster flick! Our first clue is that there's nobody in the streets of the desolate town where the Abbott family - Lee, Evelyn and three young kids - makes a precarious shopping trip.

A nerve-racking overture follows a family as they tiptoe stealthily through abandoned streets and stores in search of medicine. What happened to all these folks? Worse, there are moments of nearly baffling corniness, as if the movie were afraid we might have missed the American film industry's apotheosis of the nuclear family. In fact, there are certain circumstances in which they are allowed to make a moderate amount of sound, and they have war-gamed out certain situations in which the production of sound might help them in an all-out confrontations with the beasts. And then it jumps to "Day 472", truly in the thick of what will be unique and fresh extrapolations of its already inventive scenario. Picking up the slack and then some is mother/wife Evelyn (Blunt) who is effectively operating in 19 century frontier mode. If you make the slightest sound, these creatures will charge and dismember you before you even have time to gasp. It is a downright genius premise that the director (along with co-writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck) fashioned into a taut thriller, one you'll watch white knuckling your armrest or while curled into the fetal position. Even more excruciating are the hazards you can see coming as time ticks slowly towards some noisy reckoning, as someone steps closer and closer to a nail jutting up from the stairs. More broadly, there's the constant fear for Lee and Evelyn that any daily task can lead to an errant noise, and quickly, death. Also, poignantly, it weighs a special burden on the parents who feel responsible for protecting their offspring from harm in their present hellscape. "They don't have to tell me". "Of course there is", the boy replies, correctly.

Set in 2020 in Upstate New York, "A Quiet Place" begins on Day 89 of some unnamed calamity, which we infer from the desolate setting and signs of destruction. No one climbed over my legs to take a bathroom break; no one was on their phone, talking to their neighbor or even whispering. Still, nothing in his previous work preps you for the formal intelligence and stylistic daring he instills into every frame here. To survive, she will need to be more resourceful than anyone else in the family. But when the point of view changes to the Abbotts' adolescent daughter - played in an exceptionally sensitive performance by the deaf actress Millicent Simmonds - ambient noise is completely absent. But too often in Krasinski's movie, the human characters are rustling the cornstalks or knocking over this or that, and nothing comes of it. Something as benign as a pile of grain becomes one of the film's biggest threats.

Famed horror author Stephen King has called A Quiet Place "extraordinary". "Will people find this more of an audible experiment and not a movie?"