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WARNING: The following contains SPOILERS for A Quiet Place, so don't read ahead until after you've tiptoed out of the theater.
If you are one of the many people who saw A Quiet Place this past weekend, you know that this film starts fast and establishes a clear and present danger from the beginning. The opening scene tells you everything you need to know about these characters, the world they live in and the dangers they face, and the tension and terror only build as the movie goes on. It's hard to imagine the film beginning in any other way, but the opening, and the film in general, actually had a much different structure in the original script. A Quiet Place producer Andrew Form spoke about the changes director John Krasinski made, saying:
Initially, there were flashbacks where the characters talked. Also, the sibling's death was handled in a flashback. John was adamant that we get rid of it, making it present day and kept the urgency of the storytelling.
We can all now breathe a collective sigh of relief that John Krasinski came aboard to make this film. His work on Bryan Woods' and Scott Beck's script seemingly had a huge effect on the final product and the effectiveness of the film. The loss of the youngest child at the opening of the movie sets up not only the monsters and the central conceit of the film, but also the dynamics among the family and their grief and guilt over what happened. Showing the events of the child's death via flashback later in the film wouldn't have been as intense because we would have already seen that he isn't there, and thus would have known that something obviously happened.
A traditional approach to a story like this might have included flashbacks, and while that's not necessarily bad, it wouldn't have achieved what the final film did. Having multiple flashbacks would have taken away from the tension. A Quiet Place is taut as a bowstring, but flashbacks would have relieved that tension. The urgency of the storytelling is maintained with Krasinski's approach, and audiences are taken on a ride that never lets up.
It is also strange to think of there being more instances of characters talking in this film, and I suspect that would have diminished the impact of vocal speech. When watching A Quiet Place, you find your body rigid and your breathing quiet, every sound causing you to hold your breath. So when the characters do speak, it is meaningful and jarring, the human voice sounding almost strange as it breaks the silence. Too much talking, even in flashback, would have robbed this film of some of its potency. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, producer Andrew Form also noted that John Krasinski was the one who came up with the idea that the family would walk on beach sand paths to maintain silence. It's the little details that count, and the choices John Krasinski made on this film are what will see it remembered as a modern classic and its director announced as a creative talent to follow.