A Quiet Place: Day One (2024)

I love movies about monsters, specifically how the humans will engage in problem solving heuristics to kill ‘em hard-to-kill monsters. This genre is my guilty pleasure, even with the lousy ones I can still find something that will make me feel like a twinkle-eyed boy again. A Quiet Place (2008) was a brilliant one in that it never feels disposable. It manages to strip the roles of parents down to the core and showcase monsters who use their ultra-keen sonic ability to hunt. A Quiet Place: Part II expands on the familial themes and continues to balance the human and monster elements perfectly. Before part 3 is announced we get a prequel, A Quiet Place: Day One . We did see what happened on Day One in Part II albeit in a small town. This time round we see the apocalyptic chaos descend on New York City. Like all of its precedents, Day One doesn’t always take a macro view, preferring to wisely focus on a few characters and in this case, two.

Samira (Lupita Nyong’o) is suffering from a terminal disease in a hospice. She is sort of friendly with a male nurse named Reuben (Alex Wolff) who has organised a trip to watch a marionette show in the city. The show is disrupted by the arrival of the aliens who get into the busy job of slaughtering noisy New Yorkers scrambling for safety. Samira and her service cat manage to survive the initial wave of attack. She, together with many others, soon finds out that the only way to survive is not to make a sound. She receives help from Henri (Djimon Hounsou) but soon finds herself alone with an aim to go back to Harlem, in particularly a pizzeria from her youth. Along the way she picks up a stray survivor in Eric (Joseph Quinn).

And now we know his name is Henri, the man on the island in Part II. We get an effective backstory that gives credence to how his character has evolved to in Part II and he becomes the only link to the main movie. I like this artistic move but knowing how he meets his demise through a dumb decision leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Just imagine if instead of Henri, we get Cillian Murthy’s Emmett as the cameo. But I think after his Oscar winning turn in Oppenheimer it might be difficult to get him to do an extended cameo.

Michael Sarnoski is a great choice as the writer-director of Day One, no doubt because of Pig (2021). In the wrong hands, a story about a truffle forager going all out to get his stolen pig back can easily become a John Wick knock-off. How the story is told is a marvel – so spare, yet so intimate and artful without being too clever for its own good. It is a story about a man trying to hang on to emotional ties which make him human and a loving depiction of the grieving and mourning process. John Krasinski must have seen that and knew he has the right person to bring Day One to fruition.

Sarnoski gets the emotional ride down pat. He is a seasoned hand when the story focuses on the small moments of the characters; he is assured when it comes to the big moments of sheer chaos. After a good night’s rest, the one scene that still continues to resonate with me is the one Sam and Eric share in her apartment and the sequence when Sam and Eric have to escape from the creature in a tunnel partly submerged in water.

Lupita Nyong’o is a great casting choice with the ability to channel fear and the steel will to survive. Making her character suffer a terminal illness is a clever intrinsic move in that she has nothing to lose and will only sign out of this world at her own terms (at the start of the last act, I turned to Choo and whispered how she will go out and she whispered back something else. She was right, of course. Seriously, how does she do this?). I won’t take anything from Nyong’o’s performance but Frodo, the cat, deserves side by side billing with Nyong’o.

Where the movie rubs me the wrong way is with Eric’s character and the creatures. Who is he and what’s with the panic attacks? I find his character motivation vague, but I guess in dire life-and-death situations people who don’t know each other can come together to become an organic unit. Likewise, with the creatures, we still don’t know what is the beef they have with us. I see them killing humans, but I don’t see them eating us. There is an interesting scene of manic creature behaviour in that they gather around a translucent pod and start to gouge on what is inside. What was that? Hey, I want to know, but nothing was explained.

On the ride back home, I uttered that Day One doesn’t break any new ground in the franchise and it isn’t an essential chapter of the bigger story. She concurred. I can only say it is a nice detour from the Abbotts’ universe and we get to see how the alien invasion has affected others. Enough… give me Part III, the concluding chapter now, NOW!

3 / 5

Unlike bro WEB, my review will be short and straight to the point to save you the time. You will be the judge of whether to watch it or ditch it :slight_smile:

How would I put it? It is an okay prequel to The Quiet Place franchise but it lacks the X-factor to get it right. The director did flashed out the characters pretty well. A simple concept, a terminally ill patient on her journey to be at peace with herself by embarking on a journey to her childhood place. A very simple idea of, “going to Harlem to get a pizza” and a stranger tagging along with her in the journey despite all the chaos. It is poignant towards the end but I guess the director wanted to focus more on the human elements/emotions for this prequel.

Those expect to see some nerve wreaking moments with the “creature” will be solely disappointed. A bit too long-winded for me. I dozed off a coupel of times just because, it is mostly quiet with some background music playing and 90% of the scenes are shot in dark dimly lit places.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars

Save your money and wait for the disc or streaming.