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New Release Review - "A Quiet Place: Day One"


By Eric Hillis, TheMovieWaffler.com

originally published: 07/04/2024

New Release Review - "A Quiet Place: Day One"

For the third installment of his hit sci-fi franchise, A Quiet Place: Day OneJohn Krasinski hands the reins to fellow Polish-American filmmaker Michael Sarnoski. If you've seen Sarnoski's impressive debut, the Nicolas Cage vehicle Pig, you'll note similar elements here. As with PigDay One features a protagonist who has retreated into their shell, whose one friend is an animal, and who embarks on a quest in a major American city. Both movies trumpet the pleasure of simple food in key scenes. Sarnoski manages to weave his own interests into Krasinski's series in surprisingly smooth fashion, suggesting that the world of A Quiet Place can accommodate a variety of stories and perspectives.

New Release Review - "A Quiet Place: Day One"

As the title suggests, Sarnoski's prequel takes us back to the day the aliens landed. We saw this in the prologue of A Quiet Place Part II as a small town was overrun by the invaders. This time we get to see New York City attacked by the creatures. As some opening text explains, the city is one of the noisiest places on Earth, so it's fitting that it would be targeted by a species that hunts by sound.

If you're expecting large scale destruction of The Big Apple ala Independence Day, you may feel a little cheated. Such a thing could probably be achieved through CG, but this series has always been more interested in intimate human struggles than in exploding skyscrapers. For Sam (Lupita Nyong'o), the struggle has begun long before the aliens arrive. We find her in an end of life hospice, where she's waiting out her final days before she succumbs to terminal cancer. A friendly nurse, Reuben (Alex Wolff), does his best to raise her spirits, but she prefers to be alone with her cat Frodo. Using the lure of pizza, Reuben convinces Sam to join a trip to Manhattan for a puppet show. Once in the city, Sam finds herself at ground zero for the alien invasion, but with nothing to lose, she decides she's going to get that pizza and begins the hazardous journey to her favourite pizzeria in Harlem.

New Release Review - "A Quiet Place: Day One"

A protagonist who is set to die regardless might lower the stakes somewhat so the film gives Sam a companion in the form of Eric (Joseph Quinn), a young Englishman studying in the city. Refreshingly, Eric is absolutely terrified, dealing with the situation in a relatable fashion. Sam and Eric aren't the "strong" and "brave" types that usually lead sci-fi movies, but they form a symbiotic relationship that sees them rely on one another. Sam knows her way around the city in a way Eric doesn't. Eric helps secure Sam's meds from the rubble of a drugstore when she hits a low point. A dynamic forms that's practically identical to the 2021 sci-fi drama Finch, in which a dying Tom Hanks builds a robot to look after his dog when he passes. Sam sees Eric as someone she can entrust with the care of Frodo. In their bonding, Sam and Eric find strength, but only one can ultimately carry on.

New Release Review - "A Quiet Place: Day One"

A Quiet Place: Day One benefits greatly from a pair of interesting and relatable protagonists, played engagingly by two fine actors, but it's let down by its lacklustre set-pieces. Sarnoski never mines suspense or tension from the premise as successfully as Krasinski, and the setting of New York is squandered. We get the usual 9/11 imagery of crowds fleeing from plumes of smoke, but the city is curiously empty; for a metropolis of eight million residents, there's a suspicious lack of corpses. Along with 9/11, the Paris Bataclan attack is evoked in a sequence that sees frightened theatregoers playing dead as aliens move through the aisles, but it's never as tense as the scenario might suggest. Given this movie is set in the opening hours of the invasion, it's hard to swallow how quickly everyone figures out that the aliens can only find them through sound. While we initially worry about Frodo, the cat is too often used for cheap manipulation. The first movie might have killed off a toddler in its opening, but no viewer will be naive enough to believe this furball won't make it through.

New Release Review - "A Quiet Place: Day One"



 
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Directed by: Michael Sarnoski

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Alex Wolff, Djimon Hounsou



Eric Hillis is a film critic living in Sligo, Ireland who runs the website TheMovieWaffler.com

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