A new spin on hor­ror genre

Anx­ious mo­ments are cre­ated from the slight­est creaks of a floor

Sunday Tribune - - CELEBRITY -

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

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