It's 2018, and the best horror films really can come from anywhere. To wit, ahead of its premiere on Friday, A Quiet Place currently holds a perfect 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet, it's not the work of a horror master, but rather something of a joint passion project of one of Hollywood's most pleasant and affable-seeming couples, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt. The kind of actors who, despite varied careers, may always be known to certain audiences as Jim from The Office and Emily from The Devil Wears Prada, and more tellingly the kind of actors who don't even necessarily mind that (Krasinski has recently said he'd do an Office reunion, while Blunt is totally down for the devil wearing more Prada in a sequel). The kind of low-key Hollywood couple you might expect to see while searching Instagram under the hashtag #CoupleGoals (indeed, a portion of Internet is clinging to Blunt and Krasinski after recent news of Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan's separation).
Now, the sweet couple who never toplined a film together is ready to scare the crap out of you (Krasinski directed the film from a script he cowrote with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck). But what exactly is going on with this cryptic film? Here's a (relatively) spoiler-free examination into what A Quiet Place all about.
So who do Krasinski and Blunt play?
They're a married couple with a few kids (one of them deaf, and actually played by the young deaf actress Millicent Simmonds) who, when the film begins, have been trudging through some sort of postapocalyptic world with few signs of life. It's all very mysterious, but it's meant to be. It's not so much about the "why this happened" but the "how do they survive," it seems.
And are there, like, evil beings in this world? Roving gangs of Mad Max–style murderers? Draculas?
There are strange, giant, buglike monsters who hunt based on sound, which means if you make a peep they will hunt you down and kill you. We assume they'll eat you as well, but that is not entirely clear.
So the family has to remain silent?
Yes, that is the basic idea, but this is all very complicated by the fact that Blunt's character is pregnant, and, as anyone familiar with childbirth is aware, that is a process in which it is often very, very difficult to remain quiet in. Especially when you're in some strange postapocalyptic world without access to those good drugs. Never mind trying to keep a baby quiet after its born.
So in a way, you could say that sound itself is the true villain in this horror film?
Yes, yes, you could very much say that, and critics are raving particularly over A Quiet Place's sound design.
So do they talk in this movie?
Not a lot, babe. If they make a sound, they die. Let's keep up. Mostly the characters communicate by sign language and other nonverbal signals.
Is Krasinksi some sort of lifelong horror buff who has been waiting to do a film like this his entire career?
Nope. Not at all. Apparently Krasinski wasn't even much of a casual horror enthusiast even in his youth. "Scaredy cat, I think is the technical term," he recently said when asked if he was big into horror. instead he gravitated to the original script because he saw it as something of a metaphor for a parent's worst fears (Blunt and Krasinski have two daughters in real life, and Krasinski rewrote the script to better reflect this). "The scares were secondary to how powerful this could be as an allegory or metaphor for parenthood. For me, this is all about parenthood," he told CBS News.
"I was experiencing a lot of the things the father was experiencing in the movie: 'Can I keep this girl safe? Am I a good enough person to be her father?' This felt like the most personal movie I've ever made," he told USA Today.
What about Blunt? Why is this the first film she's done with her Husband?
Turns out she wasn't originally going to take it. She was busy with Mary Poppins and the couple's newest daughter, but eventually the whole parenthood theme got to her too. "I just fell in love with this mother. I just identified with her so much, just the fierceness of her," she also told CBS.
Should parents let their kids see the film just to scare them from making noise for like a week?
Listen, that is up to each individual parent.
Has Krasinki directed anything before?
Yeah, actually, he's done two indies. There was 2009's Brief Interviews With Hideous Men (yes, based on David Foster Wallace's collection of short stories) and 2016's The Hollars (a dark comedy about a family dealing with with the matriarch's cancer diagnosis), but neither were particularly big commercial or critical successes. Neither of those films were anything quite like this, either, so it's all very surprising and exciting.
Have you seen the trailer?
Of course, it's right here.
Right, and you see that kid with the little noisy toy spaceship?
Yes, that's a pivotal part of the trailer.
Why did they let him have it in a world where they're surrounded by monsters who hunt by sound? We're sure it will be addressed in the film.
But didn't they check what he had on them? He's just a little boy with a little backpack! How could they let him slip? How did he keep it for so long? Why didn't they take the batteries out?
It's a horror movie. People make bad decisions all the time. They run upstairs instead of out the front door all the time. These things happen.
Well, I would have taken the batteries out if it was my kid?
Can you stop parent-shaming these fictional parents? Good parents make mistakes all the time, and good parents make bad decisions all the time, and they end up beating themselves up about it enough without random Internet trolls shaming them for it. Anyway, as we said, it's a movie about a parent's worst nightmare.