“Nothing Could Have Prepared Us For How Good This Film Is” – Critics Love Paramount’s A Quiet Place

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

When Paramount Pictures’ A Quiet Place opened the SXSW Film Festival last month, the reviews were deafeningly loud – and positive.

“Critics in attendance for the Austin, Texas-based film festival called Krasinski’s third feature film ‘a tight thrill ride,’ ‘a kick-ass horror flick,’ a ‘crowdpleaser,’ and a ‘technically sleek’ and ‘terrifying thriller,’” Entertainment Weekly’s Nick Romano wrote at the time.

They may want to quiet down. Set in a post-apocalyptic America overrun by sonically super-powered insectoid predators that will feast on any human who makes the slightest sound, A Quiet Place’s tiptoeing world of caution and fear is no place for raving critics.

That hasn’t slowed them down. With the film opening in theaters today, the stream of enthralled reviews has turned into a deluge, most of which go something like this take by Cinemablend’s Conner Schwerdtfeger:

“… even in the face of heightened anticipation, nothing could’ve prepared us for how good this film is. Using its simple concept for maximum effectiveness, A Quiet Place blends horror with drama, and the result is a near-perfect horror film that isn’t just the best scary movie of 2018 so far; it is one of the best films of the year, period.”

The film stars Emily Blunt, John Krasinski (who also co-wrote and directed), Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds. They survive by wit and prudence and patience, with sign language and with poured sand trails to walk on and within a padded living space designed to mute every sound. Hanging over their bunkered but secure-for-the-moment existence is the fact of Blunt’s pregnancy, promising the inexorable arrival of a screaming baby into a world of omnipresent sound-hungry monsters.

It’s an intriguing meta concept, and one that is masterfully executed in multiple dimensions. Here’s a closer look at the elements that A Quiet Place’s critics are shouting about:

It transcends horror

From its opening scenes, it is clear that A Quiet Place has a larger purpose than scaring audiences out of their seats (though “Every second of A Quiet Place is filled with oppressive dread…” notes GQ’s Tom Philip). In its insistent focus on Mom and Dad Abbott working together to keep their kids alive under horrific circumstances, the film is as much about the overwhelming responsibility and challenges of family life as about anything else.

“The question Krasinski tackles is what defines a family and what’s needed to preserve it?” asks Peter Travers in Rolling Stone. “’Who are we,’ asks Mom, ‘if we can’t protect our children?’ The answers are worked out with satisfying complexity and genuine feeling, proving indeed that home is where family is.”

Left to right: Noah Jupe plays Marcus Abbott, Millicent Simmonds plays Regan Abbott and John Krasinski plays Lee Abbott in A QUIET PLACE, from Paramount Pictures.

At least part of the reason this resonates so deeply is that the survivalist couple is married in real life. “… the success of the film hinges almost entirely on the way in which real-life couple and parents Blunt and Krasinski pour their fears about raising children into their performances here,” writes Joanna Robinson in Vanity Fair. “As is the case with most successful, spare horror films of late, A Quiet Place has much more to say about its humans than its monsters and is especially invested in the ways families fail to communicate even their most basic needs to each other.”

Krasinski is a great director…

Krasinski the actor is familiar to a non-monster-infested America, which has been laughing along with him since the mid-2000’s heyday of The Office. Here, in his debut helming a film for a major studio, we meet Krasinski the director. We are impressed.

“Directed with first-rate visual flair by John Krasinski (who knew?), this riveting near-silent thriller exudes the despair of a broken world with the concision of a Cormac McCarthy novel folded into a simplistic B-movie premise,” writes Eric Kohn in Indiewire. “… the director’s capacity to mine suspense out of inventive scenarios (sinking in a sea of corn, or grasping for a mattress to stifle a baby’s cry) means that every new showdown comes with a few unexpected tricks.”

… supported by an outstanding cast

That one of the Abbott’s children is deaf – meaning the family can all sign fluent sign language – perhaps contributed to their survival in a world where sound is poison. That Krasinski cast a deaf actress in that role most certainly helped transform a surreal world into a believable one.

“Simmonds, a deaf actress, is as commanding here as she was in her astonishing breakthrough turn last year in Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck,” writes the Los Angeles TimesJustin Chang.

The rest of the cast is just as strong. “… Blunt, Krasinski, and Jupe all contribute credible intensity to their scenes with a degree of sophistication rare for this type of material,” writes Indiewire’s Kohn.

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Viacom & Hot Sugar Are Innovating Music With Virtual Reality

Viacom’s newest virtual reality (VR) project is an exploration unlike any other. The Melody of Dust transports you to a castle-like world where every object you encounter (a rose found in a bedroom; a dove descending from the heavens) has a distinct melody to discover and unlock. It blends music, video and gaming into an immersive, interactive experience so groundbreaking that Rolling Stone dubbed it a “new art form.”

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Viacom Just Premiered the Trippiest Virtual Reality Music Video Ever at the Sundance Film Festival

Pretend you’re a robot god in a mountain liquid dreamscape, dancing to infectious electronic beats while sparkly purple kittens float around you.

Oh, and there’s champagne too.

Enter the psychedelic world of Chocolatean animated virtual reality (VR) music experience created for the song of the same name by San Francisco based musician Giraffage. Born from the wildly imaginative mind of 3D animator Tyler Hurd and executive produced by Viacom NEXT – the company’s emerging technology group – Chocolate was selected to premiere today at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah in the New Frontier showcase of VR productions. It runs until Jan. 29.

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Seven Things You Need to Know About A$AP Rocky and His Partnership With MTV Labs and Viacom Velocity

1. A$AP Rocky was rapping by the time he was 8 years old. Now, he’s one of Viacom Velocity’s “Creative Incubators.”

Viacom Velocity and MTV Labs have named A$AP Rocky as creative director. This is just the latest big move for someone who has done a lot in 28 years, a stretch that some might consider the essence of the American Dream. Homeless as a teenager, moving from shelter to shelter, he sold drugs to survive. Rapping was just a hobby.

By 23, the Harlem native refocused his energies and began to take rapping seriously. In August 2011 his first single, Peso, leaked online. Peso’s retro-inspired video broke the proverbial internet, and led to a $3 million contract with Polo Grounds Music/ RCA Records.

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Sports Mentorship, the Impact of Music & More: Viacommunity’s #Story4Change at SXSW

by David Corpuz, Social Responsibility
Amidst the hustle and bustle of SXSW was a space of relative calm at the SXgood Hub presented by the United Nations Foundation​. Started in 2013, the SXgood Hub is a creative content venue designed to unite attendees of SXSW Music, Film, and Interactive who are advancing in social innovation.
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‘Woodies’ Spur Sales, Social and Chart Spikes for Emerging Artists

by Chanel Cathey, Viacom
Earl Sweatshirt, Domo
Gravy Wenrich
Ryan Lewis, Macklemore
Joe Newman, Gwil Sainsbury
Danielle Haim, Este Haim
Macklemore
amorosad amorosad
Tegan Quin, Sara Quin
Watch The Duck

The Woodies are more than just a college awards show, with this year’s show spurring sales, social and chart spikes for several of the performers, hosts and winners. This week, the Huffington Post’s article “More Than Just an Award: What the 2013 mtvU Woodie Awards Did for Artists” took a look at the facts and figures and heralded the awards show for spotlighting new emerging artists:

“Perhaps most notably, though, it’s the newness of it all that make the college award’s show a success: the Woodie Awards spotlight up-and-coming performers, meaning it’s more likely that those watching won’t be as familiar with the artists and/or songs featured throughout the night. Nothing buzzes the World Wide Web quite like something they haven’t heard before.”

The piece ends pointing out how these sales, social and chart jumps are a substantial perk to being part of the show:

“So congrats, 2013 Woodies, on sending home this year’s hosts, performers, and winners with a little something extra: career milestones. They’re sure to be appreciated long after the hunks of wood are forgotten.”

Here are the numbers from this year’s show:

  • Machine Gun Kelly aka MGK, who co-hosted this year’s Woodies and won the “Woodie of the Year,” experienced a 25 percent increase in digital albums sales along with a social media impact that included a massive increase of over 70 percent in Facebook likes and a respectable 12 percent increase in Twitter followers post-show.
  • Tegan and Sara also co-hosted and performed that evening, and they too fared well in many of those arenas. Their time on screen resulted in some increased album sales but an enormous 163 percent jump in the number of people downloading their single “Closer.” When it comes to Facebook and Twitter, the duo ended up with more than 790,000 new likes and 760,000 followers, respectively.
  • As for non-hosts at this year’s Woodies, performers Zedd and twenty one pilots both got in on the action, with the former’s single “Clarity” jumping more than 70 spots on the Billboard Digital Songs Chart and the latter’s sales of their single “Holding on to You” rising 33 percent.

Head here for Huff Post’s full story.

The Farewell Drifters Say Hello to SXSW

by Craig Shelburne, CMT.com

The Farewell Drifters, an energetic and young bluegrass band from Nashville, will say hello to SXSW with two official showcases this year. You can check them out early on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at The White Horse. Or you can catch ’em later – much later – at 1 a.m. on Saturday (actually Sunday) at the Victorian Room at the Driskill Hotel.

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Van Toffler Talks SXSW

by Mark Jafar, Viacom

From the mtvU Woodie Awards to the MTV Hive’s new In My Room performances, MTV continues to expand its presence at the ever-growing and increasingly influential SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Festival in Austin, TX.

To share the method behind the channel’s musical madness, and unveil an exciting new artists’ initiative that includes VH1 and CMT as well, Van Toffler, President of Viacom’s Music and Logo group, will take the stage on Thursday, March 15th as a SXSW featured speaker.  We sat down with Van today to talk about SXSW, the reinvented Woodies, and how he feels about following Bruce Springsteen on the speakers lineup (editor’s note: ouch).

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