An opening to a movie is one of the most important 10 minutes, and John Krasinski made a damn good opening scene that we won't forget.
After writing an outline for the next writer and director of the second film, Krasinski realized there was no better person to create the sequel than him. Thus, a second quiet place was born.
Now, there are a lot of great moments in the film, but nothing tops the opening sequence. The adrenaline starts pumping fast as the alien monsters take out cars and chase after some of our beloved main characters, and we haven't even finished mourning the death of Lee Abbott (John Krasinski) from the last film. Vanity Fair sat down with John Krasinski to break down the fantastic opening scene. From one takes to the perfect mistake, this is how Krasinski made the opening scene beautifully intense.
Crafting an opening scene
The opening scene starts before the events of the first film. We’re in a small town with the same family we know and love. This time, it's normal and functioning like any other town. Krasinski’s goal of the opening was to shoot the whole scene in one take, and we think he did a killer job.
Now, when he said he wanted to do a long take, what he really meant was to make the whole thing feel fluid. No clear cuts to take the audience out of the scene. There are moments when the camera does shift perspectives to allow the audience to walk with the character the story is focused on.
When it comes to finding the right moment to stitch two cuts together in a oner, Krasinski looked for the transition. The only hidden stitch in the opening of A Quiet Place: Part II is when Lee Abbott (Krasinski) steps out of his truck to talk to the officer. As his body meets the frame of the windshield, the camera and ILM break the plane of the two shots. The crew had to set flippers beneath the police car’s wheels and attach wires to the car for a major stunt that involved a lot of safety precautions which is why this stitch exists.
After the creature is featured, the camera switches into Regan Abbott’s (Millicent Simmonds) envelope or perspective. Any time there is a close-up of Regan in the film, Krasinski establishes her envelope by letting the audience hear the world as she does. When Krasinski started working with Simmonds, he talked to her and her mother, asking her mother if Simmonds could hear anything. Her mother said she actually can—loud noises, nearby laughter—but the sound is low and muffled. When Krasinski tried to replicate the world as he believed Simmonds heard it, her mother burst into tears because she was able to experience the world as her daughter does. (I’m not crying, you are.)
What went wrong
Once Lee is back in the truck, he starts messing with the radio, and the camera switches ever so smoothly to Evelyn (Emily Blunt) who is also messing with the radio. In her car, the roof is stripped away.
A giant robotic arm that is programmed to move before the scene is sitting in the rear passenger seat. The scene was rehearsed for three weeks before the actual shoot, because there was no flexibility with the camera movements. That means no improv, no little changes. Pure perfection. You know, unless the camera breaks.
As Evelyn is driving away from a bus hurdling at 40 miles per hour at her, the camera’s arm broke, and the camera started sliding forward. The brilliance of this mistake is that the camera went into a perfect close-up of Evelyn, capturing her emotion in the scene perfectly. It was Krasinski’s best mistake.
The whole scene was heavily inspired by the car chase scene in Children of Men, and how the tension never breaks even as the camera moves from character to character. It keeps the scene grounded as the audience and the characters are trying to keep up with the events unfolding in front of them.
What it does right
Without a doubt, the opening scene to A Quiet Place Part II sets the pace for the rest of the film very quickly, and that's a great thing.
The thing about sequels is that the audience already knows what we are getting into, and the film has to engage the audience and get them pumped for the next 90 or so minutes. By creating a scene that never breaks away from the action or the tension, you've got a great opening, even for the sequel.
What are your thoughts on the opening scene for A Quiet Place: Part II? Let us know in the comments!