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Audiences scared silent in 'A Quiet Place'

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Think about all the sounds you make in a given day, in a given hour, in a given minute. You clear your throat, you pick your fingernails, you tap your phone, you drink some water.

Now imagine that any one of those sounds, and the millions of others you make without thinking about it, could get you killed.

That is the premise of last week’s hit movie, “A Quiet Place.”

“It was so much fun to write this movie,” said director, co-writer and star John Krasinski. “The idea was so good. Then it was just about, how far can we take it? How deep can we go?”

The core of the concept is not original: aliens have invaded Earth. But just a few minutes into the film, audiences realize why this one is different. There is virtually no sound.

For those viewers who have never thought about it, nearly every sound in a movie has been enhanced — every creak of a door, every gunshot, every footstep, and in some cases, every breath.

The next time you pull a carving knife out of its block, listen closely. Did it make an ominous, razor-sharp, metallic draw as it left the slot? No. It never does. It never has. But it does in the movies, every time.

In “A Quiet Place,” most of the noises have not been enhanced. That’s the point. There won’t be any spoilers here, but if you’ve seen the trailer, you know that the creatures hunt by their sense of hearing. That makes every sound a life-or-death prospect for every living thing on the planet.

And the stakes are almost as high for movie goers. In the theater, every sound you make will be painfully obvious to everyone around you — every crunch of popcorn, every slurp of a drink, every whisper to a friend.

As such, audiences have quickly realized they must be as “deadly” silent as the characters in the film. A member of our Banner-Press staff saw the movie last weekend, which is playing at the Westwood Cinema 6, and reported that he had never been in a theater that was so quiet.

All of this silence has a profound effect. Today’s horror movies are more about quick scares than nerve-racking suspense. This film raises the tension to levels rarely felt in a scary movie.

“You have no idea when something sudden and dramatic will happen without the helpful horror music that queues you to pay close attention,” said Selena Simmons-Duffin of NPR.

But the creators of the film maintain the reason the tension and fear work so well is that it is a movie about family, first and foremost.

“If you like this family, then you’ll laugh with them, cry with them and be scared with them,” Krasinski said.

The parents of the family are real-life husband and wife, Krasinski and Emily Blount. Their son “Marcus” is played by Noah Jupe, who came highly recommended by none other than George Clooney. Their daughter “Regan” is a film newcomer, Millicent Simmonds, who is appearing in her second movie. She is deaf and helped add an extra layer to the production.

There are very few truly original ideas that come out of Hollywood these days. Everything is a franchise or a spin-off or based on a book or loosely inspired real events, and so on and so on.

“Inception” may be the last genuinely unique film produced by a major studio and it only got made because it was conceived by perhaps the hottest director in the business, Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman trilogy, Dunkirk).

Last weekend, audiences fell in love with “A Quiet Place” from Paramount Pictures. It might just be the next great original movie from Hollywood.

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