JOHN’S KEEP­ING EX­TRA QUIET

John Krasin­ski has teamed with his wife Emily Blunt in a new mod­ern hor­ror pit­ting a fam­ily against ruth­less crea­tures that hunt by sound

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY - SALLY COATES

In the mod­ern hor­ror thriller A Quiet Place, a fam­ily of four must nav­i­gate their lives in com­plete si­lence after mys­te­ri­ous crea­tures that hunt by sound threaten their sur­vival.

If they hear you, they hunt you.

John Krasin­ski has jumped into the role of ac­tor, writer and direc­tor for the film after be­ing pre­sented with a script that he says com­pletely cap­ti­vated him.

“I was al­ready deal­ing with all the fears of be­ing a new fa­ther – fears of how to keep my daugh­ters safe and how to be a good dad – when this came to me and so I re­lated to it on a deeply per­sonal level,” he says.

“I felt that within the ba­sic story was such an in­ter­est­ing, and ter­ri­fy­ing, metaphor for what it takes to be a par­ent.

“I was an open nerve emo­tion­ally then, so it was a very pow­er­ful time to start imag­in­ing how two par­ents might try to protect their chil­dren by do­ing the im­pos­si­ble, by liv­ing with­out mak­ing a sound.

“It just made my imag­i­na­tion ex­plode. There was so much about the idea that I wanted to ex­plore.”

Early on, Krasin­ski gave his wife Emily Blunt – the Bri­tish ac­tress who has be­come much sought after fol­low­ing in­deli­ble and var­ied roles in Into The Woods, Si­cario and The Girl on the Train – his draft of the script for A Quiet Place.

As soon as she read it, she sug­gested they play the roles of Lee and Eve­lyn Ab­bott to­gether, adding a layer of stark re­al­ism and can­did ten­der­ness that wouldn’t other­wise be pos­si­ble.

“What I fell in love with in the screen­play is that I felt it touched on some of my deep­est fears as a mother of not be­ing able to protect your chil­dren,” she says.

“The stakes are so sky-high in this story I was rac­ing to read to the end.

“Iron­i­cally, be­fore I read the script, I had sug­gested to John that a friend of mine might be right for the role of Eve­lyn, but as I read, I thought, ‘never mind that, I need to play this role’.

“I just loved the depth and beauty of the story, which goes be­yond the hor­ror movie at­mos­phere. And John and I had never worked to­gether so that was ex­cit­ing.”

All the or­di­nary creaks and hums of daily life, the ones we take for granted, sud­denly took on new mean­ing for Krasin­ski and with his real wife play­ing his on-screen wife as well, it was easy to be­come to­tally im­mersed.

“I started lis­ten­ing to ev­ery­thing,” he says.

“From sil­ver­ware clink­ing on plates to the drop­ping of your shoe when you take it off.

“It be­came kind of a game in our house where my wife and I would try to be silent and turn to each other real qui­etly if we ever made a noise, and say ‘you’re dead’.

“It turned out to be a great means of prepa­ra­tion.”

Krasin­ski even had a way of test­ing which ideas would most rat­tle au­di­ences to their core.

“Of­ten it was Emily and me sit­ting around imag­in­ing sit­u­a­tions and if Emily said, ‘I’m so ter­ri­fied, I don’t even want to think about that sit­u­a­tion,’ I would say, ‘that’s go­ing in the script’,” he re­calls.

“A lot of the fun of the writ­ing was see­ing how far we could take the idea of stay­ing quiet, from hav­ing the Ab­botts com­mu­ni­cat­ing with dif­fer­ent coloured lights to lay­ing out sand so that they can walk more qui­etly.”

Hor­ror movie fans have long known that hear­ing can scare you more deeply than see­ing. A Quiet Place draws on the long, in­no­va­tive his­tory of chill­ing films that clev­erly use sound edit­ing and mu­sic to ar­chi­tect at­mos­phere, to heighten con­fu­sion and sus­tain nearly un­bear­able sus­pense. But the idea was also to take the use of sound some­where new, mak­ing sound a char­ac­ter in and of it­self.

“Re-think­ing sound was huge for us the whole way,” Krasin­ski says.

“We all had to learn to be quiet in ways we’ve never been be­fore on a set, and from that quiet, the im­por­tance of the sound de­sign started to be­come more and more ap­par­ent.

“When you’re so quiet, and then you sud­denly hear wa­ter or trees blow­ing in the wind, it’s as­ton­ish­ing.

“You re­alise that in this day and age with the phones and ev­ery­thing, we don’t of­ten get a chance to just lis­ten to the world.

“So, we were all very ex­cited about the idea that in this film, the au­di­ence is re­ally go­ing to pay at­ten­tion to ev­ery sound in ways they maybe haven’t be­fore.”

The pri­mary means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion for the fam­ily is Amer­i­can Sign Lan­guage (ASL), a skill they had al­ready learned due to Re­gan, one of the daugh­ters, be­ing deaf.

Krasin­ski says one of the big­gest chal­lenges was find­ing the film’s Re­gan, the Ab­botts’ daugh­ter who is deaf.

Krasin­ski was thrilled to dis­cover teen ac­tress Mil­li­cent Sim­monds.

He watched as Sim­monds tapped directly into her in­di­vid­ual ex­pe­ri­ences grow­ing up as a deaf per­son to cre­ate Re­gan in a way that tran­scended what was even in the script.

“Find­ing Millie was one of the best things that ever hap­pened to this movie,” Krasin­ski says.

“Not just be­cause she’s a phe­nom­e­nal ac­tress, and not just be­cause she’s the wis­est, most an­gelic per­son you can meet, but be­cause she was so gen­er­ous with her ex­pe­ri­ences and knowl­edge of deaf cul­ture and sign lan­guage.

“She was never in­tim­i­dated, and she would say very directly ‘this is how Re­gan would do things and this is how we com­mu­ni­cate’.”

The en­tire cast ul­ti­mately learned sign lan­guage, in­clud­ing 12-year-old Noah Jupe who plays the sec­ond child in the film.

As a film with only four ac­tors, two adults and two chil­dren, it was es­sen­tial ev­ery­one played their role per­fectly, and Krasin­ski says it was re­ally the kids who pulled it all to­gether.

“These two kids knocked us out ev­ery day with their per­for­mances with­out even us­ing words,” he says.

“They were emot­ing with the pure and true be­hav­iour of chil­dren, which was more emo­tional than any­thing you could ever write.

“They showed me the power you can cre­ate in a room with­out speak­ing, and that helped me to think even more about how we could use sound to heighten the ex­pe­ri­ence of the film.” A Quiet Place is in cine­mas to­day

John Krasin­ski, Noah Jupe and Emily Blunt in a scene from new chiller A Quiet Place, which Krasin­ski also di­rected.

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