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Movie Review: 'A Quiet Place'


There is a movie opening today that caught our eyes and - well, and also our ears because of this sound.

Yes, that's the sound of silence. The movie is called "A Quiet Place" - creepy, futuristic premise. These creatures hunt people by sound, and there's a couple trying to protect their kids.


EMILY BLUNT: (As Evelyn Abbott, whispering) Who are we if we can't protect them? We have to protect them.

GREENE: Justin Chang is a film critic for the Los Angeles Times, and he was bold enough to go see this movie for us.

JUSTIN CHANG: There's been this apocalyptic invasion of some sort by an alien race. The only thing you know - and the movie just throws you right in - is that these monsters are blind, and they hunt by sound. They have extraordinary powers of hearing. And the whole movie we are with this one family - one of the few surviving families it seems. But they are carrying on. And they have to - this is, like - it's, like, walking on eggshells the movie basically (laughter).

GREENE: But, like, even worse. Like, if you make - if you even breathe loudly, like, these creatures will be drawn to you.

CHANG: Yeah. There are certain rules that come into play. You figure out that, like, the faintest of whispers is OK. But for the most part, anything - you drop a glass of water, you're dead. You talk, you're dead. So it's...

GREENE: God, that sounds terrifying.

CHANG: (Laughter) Yeah, it is. And it's - what I love about this kind of movie is it's worldbuilding. You know, it's about rules. It's about learning the rules of this world, and you kind of learn it alongside the characters. And that's why I just - I think that when you impose limitations on a filmmaker, and - in this case - you take away a lot of the dialogue - there's almost no dialogue in the movie, at least spoken. There's - they learn sign language. They know sign language because one of the key characters is deaf. But when you impose rules on it, you're automatically forced to think creatively.

GREENE: Oh, so the silence actually makes this a different experience not just for the audience but for the filmmaker, too - to really have to work within constraints.

CHANG: I think so. I mean, it's - I think it works both ways. And in a weird way, I think the challenge that the filmmakers have set for themselves is kind of the same one they set for their characters, which is basically, how do you get by - whether it's telling a story or staying alive - when...


CHANG: ...You don't have the luxury of talking or making noise?

GREENE: And Justin, we should say John Krasinski is the director of this film. He's also the star and probably best known to most of us as Jim from "The Office."


GREENE: So this is a different role.

CHANG: He will forever be Jim from "The Office." But, you know, and it just goes to show how talented he is, I think. And he directed two films before this, neither of which gave you any inkling that he had this movie in him. I mean, he's - this movie's directed with, you know, a very skillful, old-school-Hollywood-craftsman kind of style. And you just - you don't think John Krasinski, Jim from "The Office," terrific horror director. But yeah. And he stars in it with Emily Blunt, who is his real life - they're a real-life couple. And yeah.

GREENE: And they're a real husband and wife. Like, does that - how does that relationship work on-screen, and is that different to have your actual spouse in a creepy movie with you?

CHANG: And you're not even thinking about that. You're just kind of - you are - really are walking through this journey alongside them. This is a very beautifully-staged movie as these characters are forced to kind of spread out and draw the monsters' attention away. It's really, really clever and creepy and well-done.

GREENE: You've convinced me.

CHANG: (Laughter).

GREENE: I think I need to go see it. Thanks, Justin.

CHANG: You're welcome.

GREENE: Justin Chang is a film critic for the LA Times.

(SOUNDBITE OF LE MATOS'S "KID'S NIGHTMARE, PART 1") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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