01st Jul2024

‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ Review

by Jasmine Valentine

Stars: Lupita Nyong’o, Joseph Quinn, Alex Wolff, Djimon Hounsou | Written and Directed by Michael Sarnoski

Before the world went silent, New York was the city metropolis that we all know and love. Sam (Lupita Nyong’o) is a cancer patient at a hospice, reluctantly joining a group outing to Manhattan. While there, the creatures descend and begin to wreak their havoc. As Sam begins to get to grips with what’s happening, she crosses paths with Eric (Joesph Quinn), and the two begin their journey to safety.

Most of the time, a prequel that appears years after a franchise has been established — particularly one that has disrupted the timeline between films 2 and 3 — usually has no business outshining the others. While many of us were bowled over by the unique authenticity of A Quiet Place, we’re still feeling short-changed by its sequel (we’ve all been rewatching the viral video of that one kid left on the other side of the bridge). A Quiet Place: Day One is not only vastly different from its predecessors, but its craft is running rings around the story that’s already been set up.

For existing fans of the franchise, it should be made clear that A Quiet Place: Day One is a completely different beast from the “present day” movies. Where our first two installments thrive on jumpscares, death and abject horror, A Quiet Place: Day One is much more emotional in its terror. That’s not to say that tension isn’t high — director Michael Sarnoski does a seamless job of picking up where John Kransinki’s time behind the camera left off — but the connection does the talking. Instead of watching an existing family unit run into ruin, Sam and Eric are complete strangers suddenly intimately embroiled in something much bigger than them. They barely understand what’s going on yet both realize that life, and existence as they know it, depends on adaptability. If anything, that’s the scariest kind of terror there is.

Performances are A-grade across the board, but Nyong’o is taking this trip to dystopian New York and running away from it. We’ve already seen what she can deliver in horror movies thanks to Jordan Peele’s Us, and she’s easily living up to her own precedent here. Quinn is her ideal counterpart, but it’s Frodo the cat who’d be next in line for Best Supporting Actor. Forget Homeward Bound, this is all about escaping from alien jaws, almost harking back to Sigourney Weaver’s sci-fi turn in the 1970s.

The main downside is arguably what makes A Quiet Place: Day One so good — the stakes of intensity have completely changed. Sarnoski has pivoted away from the horror tropes that instantly make a storyline terrifying without trying, and sometimes watching creatures land in New York’s avenues feels more akin to Avengers gone wrong. If franchise fans can approach A Quiet Place: Day One with zero expectations, they will reap the benefits. It’s certainly a heart-pounder, but one that makes you question what’s already happening around you, rather than just what could be.

**** 4/5

A Quiet Place: Day One is in cinemas now.

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