Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn interview: ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ sound
When supervising sound editors Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn returned to the world of “A Quiet Place” for the blockbuster film’s sequel, director John Krasinski immediately gave them a new challenge. Rather than picking up with the events of the first movie – which takes place in a world where aliens that are hyper-sensitive to sound invade Earth and proceed to snuff out any human being who dares to even clear their throat – “A Quiet Place Part II” opens on the day of the invasion, when the last sounds of normalcy are taken for granted.
“We really needed to create the contrast between the most idyllic kind of small-town life with families and community. Because the flip side of that is when that community gets ripped apart,” Aadahl tells Gold Derby during our “Meet the Experts” sound panel. “You can think of the film as a metaphor for many things, including the pandemic, now, in hindsight, where people actually had to learn to survive in quarantine. So there’s something to us that was very kind of profound and emotional about creating that contrast.”
Aadahl and Van der Ryn were Oscar nominees for the first “A Quiet Place” and are in contention again this year for “Part II.” The film and its sound work were cited on the Academy Awards shortlist in the Best Sound category. “Sound is central, it’s in the DNA of this story,” Aadahl adds.
After that thrilling opening sequence, “A Quiet Place Part II” does pick up with the Abbott family, which is now on the run from the aliens. With Krasinski’s character, the Abbott family patriarch Lee, having died in the first film, the main driver of the story in part two becomes his daughter, Reagan, who is deaf. (Millicent Simmonds, who is deaf, again reprises her role as Reagan.) Throughout the film, Reagan’s sonic perspective is given prominence in the mix.
“Millicent’s mom actually described to John what Millie’s sort of sense of hearing was, what it was like for her,” Van der Ryn says. “And then he described it to us. And then we took his description of her experience it and we related it to, to an experience that both Erik and I had had, which was that of being in an anechoic chamber, which is a room that’s completely sound isolated. So you don’t hear any sound from the outside world. And after about five, maybe 10 minutes of being in one of these rooms, just being there quietly by yourself, your ears start to open up to the point where you start hearing the sound of your own blood pumping through your veins and you start to hear the ringing of your own nervous system, you start to hear your own body. And so that’s sort of what we used as our inspiration for her for creating her sonic envelopes.”
“A Quiet Place Part II” is streaming on Paramount+ and available to rent or purchase on numerous digital providers.