A Quiet Place: Day One

I wasn’t sure we needed a prequel to A Quiet Place and the 2020 sequel and I’m a strong
believer prequels are rarely if ever better than the original, but director Michael Sarnoski
(taking over the director seat from John Krasinksi) has proven me absolutely wrong. The film
wisely steps away from the Abbott family, and focuses on the story of Samira (an amazing
Lupita Nyong’o), Eric (Joseph Quinn), and the brave cat Frodo.

Samira is a terminally ill cancer patient living at a Hospice outside of New York City who has
given up on life and is counting down the days to her death. She is tricked into taking a trip into
the city by her nurse Reuben (Alex Wolff) on the day that aliens invade the planet. Sarnoski
creates 9/11 imagery with white dust covering the city and its citizens, aliens attack from all
directions as people scream in terror. Survivors gather in the marionette theater and learn
quickly that any sound they make may result in their rapid demise. Government officials
broadcast over the radio and loudspeakers for citizens to move quietly to the coast where they
will be picked up by boats. Since the aliens can’t swim, this is their only way to find safety.
While everyone else begins to move in that direction, Sam is determined to quietly travel
approximately 120 blocks from Chinatown to eat a slice of pizza from Patsy’s in Harlem before
the world comes to an end.

It’s a refreshing idea to take what could have been an action/thriller with a focus on the aliens
and having the human characters simply be fodder to be knocked off one by one, but instead
focusing quietly on a few actors and let them shine. Lupita Nyong’o gives an award winning
performance as a woman who finds a reason to live through her cat Frodo and her traveling
companion Eric. She and Joseph Quinn develop characters that feel deep and real, and their
performances are empathetic and soulful. With a limited script, their expressive faces sell so
much of the story. From sreaming in fear, pain, and frustration during a thunderstorm, to the
glee they share in an impromptu magic show. There are many quiet (pun intended) where we
step away from the alien invasion and allow these characters to shine. Sam savoring the smell
of a book, her reading her latest poem to her hospice group, to Frodo the cat chasing a mouse
and playing with its prey, a nice metaphor for the larger invasion taking place.

The sound design is top-notch and creates tension through small moments like stepping on
broken glass, talking during a rainstorm, or opening a can of cat food. The cinematography sets
us in the middle of the chaos and cinematographer Patrick Scola shoots through burned out
cars, destroyed bodegas, and dimly lit subway tunnels to really immerse the audience into this
world. The film doesn’t hold back on the tension, because when the aliens are roaming,
audiences are on the edge of their seat. Scenes like when Eric is trying to recover Frodo from a
construction site, and when Sam and Eric run through a deserted glass skyscraper are scary,
intense, and are showstoppers.

This is a film that needs to be seen on a large theatrical screen with Dolby surround sound. It’s a
film with soulful and organic performances that will linger long after the lights go up. It also features the best cat performance in a sci-fi film since Jonsey in Alien. A Quiet Place: Day One
will be on my list of my favorite films of the year and I highly recommend it.
Grade A.

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