A new spin on horror genre
Anxious moments are created from the slightest creaks of a floor
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 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 Krasinski debated with his colleagues.
“We thought: is this too much?” he said. “Will people find this more of an audible experiment and not a movie?” But he remembered a conversation he had with a marketing executive on a different film who thought the biggest misconception about audiences was that they were stupid. “I decided to take a big leap. I thought if I’m worried that people aren’t going to get it, then I’m probably doing something right.
To be sure, A Quiet Place is not a massive collection of avant-garde sound scapes. It has elements horror fans will know well, like jump-scare sounds and the occasional jolt from Marco Beltrami’s score. But the film does get a little different.
For instance, when the creatures come around, they communicate through clicking sounds. “Because the creatures are blind, we were inspired by the idea of using echolocation like bats do,” Van der Ryn said by phone. “So they have these vocal sonar signatures that they can send out into space and hear the reflections of the space around them.”
The sound of feedback, like the kind at a concert when a microphone gets too close to the amplifier, is woven into the narrative. Its unpleasantness is something sound editors usually try to avoid, so it became a particular challenge to include.
“We had like 100 different versions of feedback,” Krasinski said. “The first few feedback sounds they created would have made you vomit. So it was this long process of fine-tuning it.”
“We had so much negative space in the film in terms of quiet and silence, that we felt we had a little leverage to push this,” Aadahl said.
So was there actually quiet on the set? The film’s frequent hushed moments did ultimately dictate how things were handled during the shoot, although not at first. Before production, Krasinski hadn’t let many people read the screenplay, for which he shares credit with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck. The crew heard that it was a silent movie and assumed that either a score would be placed over almost everything, or all the sound would be added in postproduction.
“But then we learned together how quiet it needed to be,” Krasinski added. “Like, no, you literally can’t move because we need the room tone, we need the breeze through the trees, we need the corn… It wasn’t like, yeah, I’ll put in ‘barn’ later. And instead of the crew being gruff about not being able to live a normal life on set, they really embraced it.” –The New York Times