'A Quiet Place: Day One' is the Horror Franchise's Best

'A Quiet Place: Day One' is the Horror Franchise's Best

- By Nicolas Delgadillo

This apocalyptic prequel delivers disaster movie spectacle alongside some truly poignant emotion, with great performances from Lupita Nyong'o and Joseph Quinn.

The first two A Quiet Place movies delivered some unique monster thrills alongside an engaging family drama, earning a good-sized fan base of horror and sci-fi lovers since the original film released in 2018. The franchise is set in a post-apocalyptic Earth where alien creatures have wiped out most people on the planet, but this latest entry, A Quiet Place: Day One, turns back the clock to show the very beginning of the end - the day the aliens first arrived and began unleashing havoc.

John Krasinki directed, starred in, and (alongside creators Bryan Woods & Scott Beck) wrote the first film while also returning to direct and write the sequel. Day One, which acts as both a prequel and a spin-off, has a different filmmaking voice taking over the series. Michael Sarnoski, the director of the incredible 2021 film Pig, makes the jump from indies to blockbusters with Day One, but brings his character-focused sensibilities to the apocalyptic spectacle that’s been promised. It’s the best of the franchise by far.

The movie follows a woman named Samira (Lupita Nyong’o) who finds herself caught in the chaos of the alien invasion of New York City. As those familiar with A Quiet Place know, these monsters are entirely driven by sound, seeking out and annihilating any source of decibels with wickedly fast speed. Needless to say, a major city filled with people emits quite a good bit of noise at all times, which makes for some serious carnage once the creatures begin landing on Earth.

Sarnoski stages the monster mayhem with plenty of creative confidence, evoking the imagery of real-life events like 9/11 to sell the destruction and confusion. He also cleverly obscures much of the violence by putting more emphasis on the aftermath of the various scenes of slaughter rather than directly showing them. Most of the time, at least. Those itching to see some large-scale disaster sequences along the lines of Independence Day or War of the Worlds won’t be too disappointed; there’s still plenty of action in Day One to satisfy audience bloodlust.

But the true power of this particular Quiet Place film comes from its exceptionally moving story of Samira and the unexpected companionship she forms with fellow survivor Eric (Stranger Things star and "Master of Puppets" shredder Joseph Quinn). The two couldn’t be more different. Samira is terminally ill, and while obviously angry she also has a sense of acceptance about her life reaching its end. Eric, meanwhile, is a law student from the UK, and thought his life was just about to really begin. 

The pair are forced to rely on each other when the world comes crashing down around them, and it’s the silent moments between the two that really make Day One soar. There’s a deeply human story here about what unexpected connections we might make when disaster strikes. The story of Samira and Eric is one that reiterates that old adage of how at the end of it all, we only really have one another. But, as this film shows, that might just be enough to save us in one form or another.

Sarnoski’s debut feature (seriously, go watch Pig) told audiences to expect the unexpected from this particular filmmaker. That movie is not something you can anticipate. A Quiet Place: Day One does the same sort of magic trick, pulling powerful emotion from unexpected moments throughout its end of the world, alien invasion plot. 

That’s not to say that the story of the Abbott family from the original two movies isn’t emotional, it certainly is. But it’s a story that takes place after the dust has mostly settled from doomsday; about how there might be a brighter tomorrow. Day One is about how it feels when it sure as shit doesn’t look like there’s going to be a tomorrow ever again. It’s a darker film than the first two, but there’s just as much, if not more, hope within it. 

Much of the credit has to go to the lead performances from Lupita Nyong'o and Joseph Quinn as well, who deliver some of their best work as Samira and Eric. Of course, the best actor is by far the cat that plays Frodo, Samira's pet cat. The cat the best part of the entire movie, truth be told. Maybe that's secretly what makes Day One the best Quiet Place movie - the first two are fine, but they don't have Frodo.

'A Quiet Place: Day One' is now playing in theaters.




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