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A Quiet Place: Day One (2024)

-Written by John Cajio. 

A Quiet Place: Day One is a film that does not suck. Anchored by strong performances and an intimately human story set against the ghastly background of an violent alien invasion, A Quiet Place: Day One is an immensely satisfying prequel to the popular franchise. 

While the opening moments of A Quiet Place Part II gave us a brief glimpse into the carnage and terror sown by the sudden arrival of the armored alien creatures that hunt by hearing, this latest film gives us a full-throated look into Day One in New York City. The spectacle of the aliens arriving is both awesome and terrifying. Apparent meteors crash into New York City, immediately sending nearby folks screaming—right into the deadly grasp of the newly arrived aliens. The aliens waste absolutely no time in laying waste to everything they hear around them. 

The scope of A Quiet Place: Day One is both much larger and much smaller than its predecessors. In the previous films, an encounter with one alien was enough to give the viewer heart palpitations, and make one wonder if the characters are doomed to a death that is as swift as it is violent. In this latest film, we see literal herds of aliens rampaging through the streets and clambering up and down buildings with great ease and speed, razing everything in a manner reminiscent of the 1986 video game Rampage (and causing the theater’s subwoofers to pull every ounce of power they could to keep up). It’s hard not to feel like humanity is hopelessly doomed when presented with such vast amounts of aliens hellbent on tearing to pieces anything they hear. 

On the other hand, the story is, in many respects, much smaller and simpler in scope than the previous entries in the franchise, notably because survival isn’t, in many respects, the driving motivation for our protagonists, Samira and Eric. It is something much simpler and much more human, and to say more would risk spoiling key aspects of that story. 

The performances by Lupita Nyong’o (Samira) and Joseph Quinn (Eric) do a tremendous job of keeping the viewer grounded, engaged, and rooting for them as they navigate a series of harrowing experiences throughout a ruined New York City. Both actors rely heavily on facial expression to carry the day in a film such as this. Here, the viewer can freeze the frame at any given moment when Nyong’o or Quinn are on screen and know exactly what they are expressing with their faces. It is a great testament to the dedication each has to their craft. 

Nyong’o has had a lauded and storied career from the beginning with her breakout role in 12 Years a Slave (2013), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her turn here as Samira just further cements her status as one of Hollywood’s best actors. 

Quinn’s stock continues to rise since his breakout role as the frequently misunderstood Eddie Munson in the fourth season of Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things. He demonstrates a decidedly different range here, and to great effect. I hope that his meteoric rise continues. 

Something needs to be said about Samira’s support cat, Frodo. Frodo might just be the real heart and soul of this film. He brings Samira and Eric together and ably guides them through many of the film’s most treacherous moments. Whether Frodo does so knowingly or serendipitously will likely be the subject of much debate. 

Djimon Hounsou (Henri) is the lone bridge between this film and its predecessors. It’s a shame, then, that he has such little presence on screen. But, to his credit, just as in A Quiet Place Part II (which I think suffered from the same problem with him), he works hard to maximize his presence with the limited screen time he is ultimately offered.

The film takes a lot of liberties with the classical rule of thirds, and to good effect. Oftentimes, a scene that is chaotic or discomforting in some aspect will be framed in an off kilter variation of the rule of thirds: a character may be framed a little too far to the left or to the right. Typically, there would be a resolving frame a little later where the same character would be framed in typical rule of third fashion, bringing relief to the discomfort. Notably, I also observed that the music used similar techniques—chaotic non-tonal music resolving eventually to clean octaves or similar treatment. If this was the intention of Director Michael Sarnoski, Cinematographer Pat Scola, and Composer Alexis Grapsas, then the effect was achieved. 

If you were concerned by John Krasinski’s relative lack of involvement in this film (after writing and directing the first two), you need not be. Sarnoski proves to be quite capable at both tasks. A Quiet Place: Day One is a thrilling film with a grand scope but a very human (or perhaps feline) heart. 

Written and Directed by Michael Sarnoski.

Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou, Alex Wolff, etc.




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