A Quiet Place: Day One – movie review

A Quiet Place: Day One is an origin story. But it could have been named how to avoid a “cat”astrophe – with all the screen time given to a moggy. The film goes back to when the blind but noise-sensitive creatures featured in A Quiet Place (2018) and A Quiet Place Part II (2020) invaded the world. However the focus here is on Manhattan.

The focus is on a woman named Samira known as Sam (Lupita Nyong’o). She’s a cancer patient who’s in pain and on meds in a hospice outside New York City. Basically, Sam has given up on life. But one day she reluctantly agrees to let a care worker, Reuben (Alex Wolff), take her, along with other patients, to a show in town. But her condition is that Reuben get her a pizza. The trip however coincides with the aliens (they remind me of the critters in the Alien movies) arriving, appearing as comets from the sky. Even the slightest noise can trigger them in numbers and they leave a path of destruction in their wake.

Buildings are torn apart, cars destroyed and overturned, and debris is everywhere. At first, Sam and Reuben remain holed up and silent in the theatre, but that doesn’t last too long. Soon, Sam is on the move with Frodo, her cat. The authorities order residents to evacuate the city and head south via boats on the waterfront (because the creatures can’t swim). But Sam still wants her pizza … in Harlem, as a nod to her late father. She goes it alone … with Frodo. Although the puss wanders off, he returns with a scared young British law student, Eric (Joseph Quinn) in tow. She tells him not to follow her, but he doesn’t listen.

The rest of the narrative follows the pair of them as they navigate the Manhattan streets, buildings and subway system. Of course, there are many close encounters with the creatures, who strike with speed and force.

Michael Sarnoski (Pig – 2021) directs his own screenplay, from a story by John Krasinski and Bryan Woods.

First up, you can see this film without having seen the others in the franchise and it still makes sense. Second, it’s intimidating and scary (there are several truly frightening scenes). The creatures are large, fast, ugly and slimy.

Lupita Nyong’o is excellent in the lead. She plays Sam as strong-willed and disciplined. Her eyes speak volumes. As Eric, Joseph Quinn masters fear, as well as care, to ingratiate himself into Sam’s life and give her something she desperately needs – renewed joy. Alex Wolff is the responsible one as the carer who recognises Samira’s need to find something extra to press on regardless of her condition. Djimon Hounsou, who featured in Part II as the leader of an island colony of survivors, gets a smaller role as Henri here. As to Sam’s assistance cat Frodo – what can I say? Simply, he’s a born star who seems to love the camera, while the camera loves him.

Visually, from the opening aerial shot of the city, the movie is striking. Cinematographer Pat Scola (who worked with Sarnoski on Pig) captures the destruction, desolation and desperation with distinction. The contrast between sound and silence is critical to the impact of the picture and this is where music by Alexis Grapsas (also Pig) also has an important role to play.

A Quiet Place: Day One had me engaged from the outset. Like the strong showing of Emily Blunt in the first two films, the potency of Lupita Nyong’o’s acting gives this third instalment bite.

Alex First

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