Some sort of invasion of Earth has taken place in the new movie A Quiet Place. The creatures have wiped out vast swaths of the human population and the survivors have learned the only way to stay alive is to remain absolutely quiet because, as the marketing tagline goes, if they hear you, they hunt you.
Providing our viewpoint on this terrifying and largely silent world is a family of four headed by Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and Lee (John Krasinski) and which includes their kids Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Regan (Millicent Simmonds). The family has to keep moving to find safety, but movement produces sound, so the dangers are around them at all times. The sci-fi-tinged thriller was directed by Krasinski as well.
We see Evelyn on the first and only domestic poster as she’s hiding in a bathtub set in a dingy home of some sort. The copy “If they hear you, they hunt you” is in the top left corner, reinforced by the shadow of something ominous that’s lurking outside the bathroom door. The grey-green colors used here are common to horrors and thrillers since it conveys darkness as well as a sense of unkemptness that combines to seem slightly terrifying.
The first trailer is largely devoid of dialogue. We see the characters doing various things like walking through the woods, investigating creepy farmhouses, having a lovely family dinner and more, but there are clear hints there’s something more insidious happening. In fact the first time someone makes any sort of noise it seems to stir some sort of beast or other threat outside and things are never the same from there on out. “Silence is survival” we’re told at the very end.
We finally get some backstory in the second trailer, which starts with Evelyn watching news reports of the devastation being brought down in the wake of an invasion of some sort. Cut to some time in the future when she and her family have survived but are living by the rule of staying quiet in order to survive. They communicate via sign language and take every precaution to not making a single sound. Of course that does invariably happen and it causes all kinds of jump cuts and shots of slimy arms being wrapped around door frames.
What I think works best is that this is clearly a horror film of a sort (I’d categorize it more as a thriller, but whatever) but it mixes in significant elements of sci-fi. That rule about staying silent in particular is one that seems pulled straight from a sci-fi story. It looks tense and scary and I like it.
One final short trailer hit just earlier this week that offered the best look to date at the creatures that are doing the hunting as well as how quickly they pounce once they hear something.
Online and Social
The movie’s official website is the now-standard low-content effort, just the trailer, a synopsis and small gallery on a site that’s mainly devoted to selling tickets and showing where nearby theaters showing the movie are. There are also links to the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles created for promotion.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Advertising started with a Super Bowl spot that begins by explaining what has happened to the world and why the family we follow has to stay so quiet, though the details of the “invasion” and “devastation” are left unexplored. After that we see the family on the run and trying desperately to stay quiet because, as the title cards explain, if it hears you, it hunts you.
Social advertising using a short version of the trailers began in mid-March, right around the time the movie was causing a stir among critics at SXSW. That included this short spot that asked the audience to keep their sound turned off because if they hear you, they hunt you, a nice nod to the movie’s core conceit.
Online ads used the key art of Blunt in the bathtub.
Media and Publicity
Press was pretty quiet outside of the release of the trailer until it was announced the movie would be the opening feature at SXSW. Both Krasinski and Blunt were in Austin to promote the film and talk about its story while the screening itself resulted in a good amount of very positive buzz from critics in attendance.
Blunt made the publicity circuit as well to talk about this movie as well as past and upcoming projects. Likewise, Krasinski showed up on “Ellen” to have some fun and talk about sitting in the director’s chair for the first time.
A feature profile of Krasinski touched on how he’s not known at all for horror and how he wasn’t overly-familiar with the genre (something that’s sure to displease the hardcore fans) but worked to identify with the material and turn it into something unique and entertaining. Screenwriters Scott Beck and Bryan Woods wrote a contributed piece about how they came up with the story and how they kind of backed into this situation.
Given that Blunt and Krasinski are married it’s only natural that there were a few interviews, appearances and features that included comments from both of them about working together for the first time and how they managed to not strangle each other from one direction or another.
If you’re not a horror/thriller fan, you probably aren’t going to be converted by this campaign, though it does make an attempt to sell the movie as much as a family drama as a horror flick. If you *are* a horror/thriller fan, you might be put off by a n00b like Krasinski, who’s best known for his role on “The Office” or for his recent attempts to be an action hero, intruding on your turf without paying sufficient homage.
What the movie has going for it is one of the strongest brand identities I’ve seen in quite a while. That “They hear you, they hunt you” tagline is not only omnipresent in the campaign but it’s catchy as hell and instantly recognizable and powerful. It tells you everything you need to know about the movie quickly and memorably. It alone, combined with the positive word of mouth that’s come out of festival screenings and a newfound ability for the mass audience to see horror as accessible and just another form of storytelling, could help the movie achieve some success this weekend.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.