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FILM REVIEW: A Quiet Place Day One (2024)

Updated: Jul 8

A Quiet Place: Day One - New Release Review


Director: Michael Sarnoski

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Alex Wolf, Djimon Hounsou, Alfie Todd


Written by: Michael Sarnoski

Produced by: Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller, John Krasinksi

Cinematography by: Pat Scola

Original Score by: Alexis Grapsas


Synopsis:

A woman named Sam finds herself trapped in New York City during the early stages of an invasion by alien creatures with ultra-sensitive hearing


A Quiet Place: Day one Film Review

Thoughts:

When it was released in 2018 'A Quiet Place' was a huge success with critics and audiences alike. John Krasinski took Bryan Woods and Scott Beck's unique concept and crafted a technically proficient creature feature with a family drama at its heart in a world where survival depends on silence. The inevitable sequel was released in 2020 to a positive response as the world established in the original was expanded upon, offering a glimpse of the initial invasion of the blind but deadly extraterrestrial creatures in the prologue. Now we have a prequel, 'A Quiet Place: Day One' which looks at this moment again only in a larger capacity in New York City. 



Stepping away from the Abbott family, this film follows a terminally ill woman called Sam (Lupita Nyong'o) who, alongside her cat Frodo, travels to New York City with some of her fellow hospice patients to see a Marionette show. During the performance, meteor-like objects crash around the city but they contain deadly creatures that attack everywhere they hear a noise. This leads to a personal journey for Sam where she encounters Eric (Joseph Quinn), a British law student who joins her. 


Lupita Nyong'o as Sam in A Quiet Place: Day One

When you look at the central concept of 'A Quiet Place' it feels like it should have been a one and done scenario given the limitations that comes with it but the first two entries left the door open for sequels centred around Millicent Simmonds character. Their commercial success would make you assume that her story would be the focus for a third film but that is not the case here. 'Day One' is a prequel that focuses on the first day of the invasion (a somewhat redundant idea considering how we got a taste of that at the start of Part Two) but here there is an expansion in terms of setting as we are given a glimpse at a city wide invasion rather than a small rural town, potentially offering a fresh take on the concept. 


In the director's chair this time we have Michael Sarnoski (who also penned the film's script) and he is the film's greatest asset. Coming off the back of the critically acclaimed 'Pig' starring Nicolas Cage, Sarnoski is an inspired choice to direct the film given the manner in which he handled quiet moments with so much raw emotional nuance in that film. That translates well here as Sam's story is a beautifully tragic one. She has lost so much with her life ending and now it is ending for everyone else around her. In the midst of this apocalyptic event she forms a bond with Eric, a highly anxious individual who is lost in the chaos.



Sarnoski handles this relationship and their characteristics in such a tender manner, it is very refreshing to see it in an apocalyptic horror film of this scale. The gentle camera movements that really hone in on a character's face or the focus on small items that they possess carries so much importance are just small details that go a long way at heightening the emotion of the film. On top of this Alexis Grapsas score is a very stripped back but a beautiful component that works brilliantly through these quiet moments. 


Whilst these are the strongest elements of the film, the action itself isn't quite on the same level. It is somewhat generic and doesn't really expand on anything we've seen before in the previous entries. The camera work during some of these scenes can be a bit too frenetic (especially during the big opening attack) causing us to lose focus on what is happening on screen. This might work well in giving us an insight into the character's point of view but it doesn't translate well for the audience. Having said that, Sarnoski's approach to the more tense scenes of the film work much better at keeping you on the edge of your seat. 


Joseph Quinn and Lupita Nyong'o in A Quiet Place: Day One

In the leading role Lupita Nyong'o is wonderful as Sam giving a very soulful and expressive performance. There is a distraught manner to her physicality not just from her illness but her situation that holds your attention. It makes her character's determinism to relive a moment from a happier time all the more tragic and powerful. Opposite her, Joseph Quinn as Eric gives a good performance too as his character tries to adjust to a world that has been transformed in the blink of an eye. Their dynamic in their relationship is a nice reversal of what is usually commonplace in this kind of a film as Sam is a pillar of strength to Eric (in spite of her illness) as he is a shell shocked wreck that lacks direction.



The beauty of their relationship and probably the best scene in the entire film comes in a scene where Eric and Sam are at a bar and act out a magic show of sorts. It is a simple yet sweet moment that leaves a lasting impact for the characters and audience alike. Special mention must also go to Nico and Schnitzel who play Sam's cat Frodo. Their presence on screen is some of the finest feline work in the genre since Leo's role as Church in the 2019 version of 'Pet Sematary'. 



The trailers for 'A Quiet Place: Day One' suggested that it was going to be nothing more than another generic apocalyptic creature feature but with Sarnoski's direction, he has taken this standard template and weaved into it a very human story about the importance of memory and death in the face of the end of all things, that goes completely against a general audience's expectations for this kind of film. With two excellent leading performances it doesn't exactly reinvent the wheel but rather it uses it to take us in a direction we may not expect it to, but the film is all the better for this. 


Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️½


-Joseph McElroy


'A Quiet Place: Day One' is available to watch in cinemas right now

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