The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Watching ‘A Quiet Place’ in a theater? Crunch, slurp or sniffle at your own risk.

It’s always annoying to have people around you at the movies rustling bags, crunching popcorn and slurping down soda. But with one new movie, it’s not just irritating. It’s practically deafening.

The noise itself is no louder than usual. The problem is the movie. It’s quiet. Really quiet.

Crunch at your own risk.

On Friday, John Krasinski debuted his horror thriller film “A Quiet Place,” and in this case the title accurately reflects the viewing experience.

Save for the rare scream and some soft music, most of the film is silent. It follows the lives of the Abbotts, a family led by Krasinski and the actor’s real-life spouse Emily Blunt, as they try to navigate a world overrun by monsters who hunt by noise.

The only chance for human survival is remaining silent.

That means any real-life sound, whether it’s popcorn being chewed or the theater’s air conditioning running seems all the louder.

When 20-year-old Jade Vendivel went to the theater with her roommate on Monday, she told The Washington Post she thought they were just going to be watching “another scary movie.”

Vendivel admitted she was wrong, describing a theater that went “dead silent” after the previews ended.

“It got to the point where I could only put a piece of popcorn in my mouth every 10 minutes whenever the sound would get high enough,” said Vendivel, who lives in Los Angeles. “Even then, I would have to hold the popcorn in my mouth until it was soft enough to chew without making any noise.”

She added she even had to muffle her own gasps during the movie with a blanket she brought to the theater.

“There was one particular scene where it zooms in on John Krasinski’s face when he’s trying to tell his children to be quiet and I fully stuffed the blanket into my mouth,” she said.

The film’s producers noticed viewers weren’t touching their popcorn during screenings, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“People feel they need to be quiet,” one of the producers, Brad Fuller, told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s like mob rule — if someone starts crunching loudly, the rest of the theater is going to go after them.”

In the days since the film hit U.S. theaters on Friday, scores of people have taken to social media to share their harrowing experiences of trying to eat, drink and even breathe normally without incurring the wrath of other patrons.

One user tweeted that fellow audience members were “so passive aggressive over people making noises …”

Jacob Burns, a 20-year-old junior at Texas State University, tweeted an alternative name for the movie, “How Self-Conscious Can We Make You About Every Tiny Sound You Make in A Movie Theater with 100 Strangers All Trying to Eat Popcorn At the Same Time?”

Burns told The Post he made the mistake of choosing “A Quiet Place” to be the first movie into which he ever sneaked in food, saying it was the “worst possible choice of film to try to eat a full meal in.”

“It was in Styrofoam and a plastic bag,” he said about his food. “It was really bad.”

While Burns did eventually manage to eat by strategically waiting for louder music, he said the experience came with a great deal of embarrassment and apologizing.

“I wouldn’t do it again,” he said.

Beyond food, the intense silence can amplify breathing or even shifting in theater seats.

Arizona resident Leslie Huynh, 17, told The Post she had to chastise her friend for sniffling during the film, adding that she was concerned her own breathing would be offensive.

“I was holding my breath and I was breathing really slowly because I was like ‘Am I breathing too loud?'” Huynh said. “I was just trying not to breathe at all.”

Although having to sit completely still, not breathing and not eating may seem like a terrible way to spend an hour and a half, moviegoers such as Burns said being quiet was a way to respect the film.

Any noise would have detracted from the movie’s strategic use of silence, Burns said, pointing to parts of the film during which audiences view the action from the perspective of one of the characters, who is deaf. These scenes have minimal to no sound, he said.

Others said the real-life silence made them feel like they were in the quiet place, fearing for their lives alongside the Abbotts.

“It definitely made the impact of the movie hit a lot closer to home,” Vendivel said. “It felt like we were part of their experience trying to hide from these aliens. If we messed up and made noise then the family would be one step closer to dying.”

With a viewing experience like that, it’s no surprise the film raked in a staggering $50 million over its opening weekend, and many are still flocking theaters to see it.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the film, but plans to, Vendivel has some simple advice.

“Save your money and don’t buy concessions,” she said. “You definitely won’t have time to eat any of it, or even if you tried to, you’d definitely be either kicked out by other moviegoers or glared down as hard as possible.”

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