A Quiet Place is a harrowing and relentlessly suspenseful tale of survival. But between the jump scares and terrifying alien-monsters, at its heart, the film is about family — specifically, the Abbott family, who live on a remote piece of land in total silence.
Directed and co-written by John Krasinski, who also stars as the weary Abbott family patriarch, A Quiet Place is set in the near future, a short time after an invasion from a blind, extraterrestrial life form with a keen sense of hearing has decimated the country and left those remaining living in quiet fear of being hunted. Anything louder than the shallowest of whispers and you're toast, so in A Quiet Place, silence is survival.
"As soon as I read it, I was completely moved by the power of this family," Krasinski told MTV News at a press day for the film. "Yes, the movie's scary, and yes, it's so much fun in how we explore the world and get you to be scared, but to me the only reason it's the type of scary that it is is because you care about this family."
The Abbotts were more prepared than most for the silent apocalypse. Their daughter Regan, played by deaf actress Millicent Simmonds, is hearing impaired, and they mostly communicate in sign language throughout the film. Casting a deaf actress in the role was "non-negotiable" for Krasinski, who encouraged the cast and crew to learn ASL as well.
Though, when producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller sent Krasinski the script in 2016 — just three weeks after the birth of his second daughter, Violet — they initially brought it to him as an actor. "I don't think my name is the name that you see and say, 'That guy's going to direct a horror movie,'" Krasinski quipped.
But there was something about the Abbotts, and specifically Lee's plight as a father in such dangerous environment, that the actor couldn't quite shake from his consciousness. He described the script as "a gunshot right in my heart," adding, "I was so moved by this incredible, powerful metaphor for parenthood."
When he took on the project as a director, he also re-wrote the script, bringing in his own experience as a father and as a husband. He then turned it into a family affair, casting his wife, Emily Blunt, in the role of his onscreen other half, Evelyn — a part Blunt had originally recommended to a friend before deciding she wanted it instead. "I know it sounds insane, but this is my love letter to my kids," Krasinski said. To which Blunt replied, "That's kind of messed up... Our children shouldn't even see this until they're at least 40."
As for their fictional children, played by Simmonds and young actor Noah Jupe, working through the intense, difficult emotions of the Abbott kids — Regan, angry at her dad and wracked with guilt, and Marcus, perpetually afraid of what's lurking outside — was a collaborative effort with Krasinski.
"If something got really difficult in a scene, or if it was really dark, John would always pull me aside and talk me through the scene," Simmonds told MTV News. "John is very open-minded, but his heart is very open as well. He developed a really special relationship with us."
Of course, that collaborative spirit went both ways. Krasinski learned just as much from his young stars as they did from him.
"I needed her as my guide to walk me through was it was like being part of a family with someone who is deaf," Krasinki said of Simmonds. "Does she ever have regrets? Does she ever feel judged? Does she feel empowered? All of these incredible things she shared with me. She's the reason I learned ASL so well, because she's an incredible teacher. It's truly one of the more special experiences I've had in making movies."
A Quiet Place is in theaters now.