A Quiet Place: Day One – Movie Review

Posted by Eddie Pasa on June 27, 2024 in / No Comments

 

Rated PG-13 by the MPA for terror and violent content/bloody images. Running time: 99 minutes. Released by Paramount Pictures.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Paramount Pictures, A Quiet Place: Day OneI’m wondering if A Quiet Place is going to become the new Friday the 13th franchise, deposited almost yearly into theaters to scare teen audiences. They share the same distributor – Paramount, who gave us the first eight Friday the 13ths, seven Paranormal Activitys, and is also giving us the eighth Mission: Impossible movie next year – so why not? Former series director and star John Krasinski had no intention of creating a franchise from his 2018 series originator, but soon envisioned more stories coming out of this world where aliens have conquered the planet and humanity has been forced into silent hiding.

These films are pure action and tension, eschewing the usual large reams of dialogue in exchange for high-tuned suspense and thrills, and it’d make absolute sense to show how other parts of the world have been affected by this invasion. In A Quiet Place Part II, the prologue showed us the minute that small-town America was destroyed by these quadruped beings whose acute sense of sound drew them to their victims. Now, A Quiet Place: Day One gives us the big-city scope of this incursion taking place in New York City, nearly 90 miles away from the upstate New York location of the first two films.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Paramount Pictures, A Quiet Place: Day OneMichael Sarnoski takes the writing and directing reins from Krasinski (who carries only story and producing credits this time around) and floods our senses with a whole lot of bombastic sound and action, with just enough character development to get things going. There’s no doubt that we can get behind our main avatar, played touchingly by Lupita Nyong’o. I don’t believe there’s a better actor working who could summon up as much gravitas and pain that Nyong’o puts behind Samira, a poet and cancer patient who’s given up, checked out of hospice, and on her way to her NYC apartment to live out her last days. (Stopping, as one must, at Patsy’s for a slice of pizza.)

Once interrupted by aliens falling from the sky Armageddon-style, crashing into skyscrapers, and ripping apart the populace, Samira’s quick to accept the “stay silent or die” ethos driving these three films. (As it takes place in NYC, depictions of ash clouds and the streets full of shocked survivors and onlookers are sure to bring back thoughts of 9/11.) Nyong’o pulls at us with a deft balance of wide-eyed terror and the plaintive soul of someone who just wants to go home with her cat Frodo (is it any wonder that Samira – “Sam” – has a cat named Frodo?), and she gives a hell of a performance that puts A Quiet Place: Day One on solid footing. She doesn’t just take us along for the ride, but rather involves us as Samira navigates her way back to her apartment, soon accompanied by shell-shocked law student Eric (Joseph Quinn). Frodo finds him after Eric emerges, half-drowned, from a flooded subway entrance; he follows Frodo to Samira and kinda tags along, much to her chagrin, simply because he doesn’t know what to do or where to go. At all.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Paramount Pictures, A Quiet Place: Day OneThis pairing of at-life’s-end Samira and life’s-just-beginning Eric provides the emotional side of the film through this reluctant partnership formed out of adversity. Yes, they’re not quite the Abbott family from the preceding films, but there’s enough of a mutual care and respect that lays the foundation for the road ahead. Quinn – known to most as Stranger Things’ breakout character Eddie – creates in Eric a man working purely toward survival on the basest of routines: Follow a leader, take care of each other, and try not to die. Neither he nor Samira are “horror movie stupid”; their collective smarts keep them in step and working well together, with her being able to calm his panic and him getting the medicine she needs.

A Quiet Place: Day One rides solely on these two; given the strength of Nyong’o and Quinn’s performances, it’s more than enough for us to dive into this new story. Yet there’s a depth the first two films had that this one misses; part of it has to do with a lack of clearly-stated objectives. Maybe they’re implied and I missed out on it, but Eric doesn’t have any direction other than Samira telling him that he needs to get to an evacuation point. Likewise, all we really hear Samira wanting is a slice from Patsy’s, not that she wants to die on her own terms, an unspoken motive that carries us all the way to the end. The Patsy’s request seems to be the nightcap before she takes the big sleep, to go out happy and content; we’re told of her attachment to this location, which speaks aloud what she cannot tell Eric.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Paramount Pictures, A Quiet Place: Day OneIt’s also a lack of the metaphors so strongly running through the first films. This is a more straightforward action-horror film, bearing just enough substance to etch itself into our heads. An early scene where a man kills a panicking survivor is rather heavy, shouldering the weight of having to do the unthinkable in order to live. But almost as quickly as it happens, it’s done and left by the wayside; a lot is given to this moment, but it doesn’t factor into the rest of the film. Scenes like this happen frequently, especially a truly suspenseful sequence featuring Eric holding onto a girder for dear life while aliens scurry around him to feed on what looks like eggs. It’s another event that has massive implications, but it’s discussed or considered no further than the time it takes to get to the next edit. The film sometimes feels like hit-‘em-and-get-out vignettes strung together by the alien invasion and our magnetic leads, who thankfully give this film coherence and cohesion.

A Quiet Place: Day One serves well as a summer thriller, with excellent sound design bolstering the film’s splendid visual effects. Theater subwoofers rumble and pop with each alien attack and every chase scene, intensifying the story’s driving aspect of sound being the difference between life and death. It has all the right scares and hold-your-breath moments that you’d expect from these films, and it retains the humanity that grounds this series and keeps them so identifiable with audiences. The performances by Lupita Nyong’o and Joseph Quinn are excellent enough to wallpaper over most misgivings, but there’s something that doesn’t sit right as a film in this particular franchise. Instead of being fully embraced and enveloped into the world of A Quiet Place like two films before it, we’re kept at arm’s length as outsiders rather than participants. There seems to be another story waiting to be told… and maybe they want us to wait for the next one. Or two.

Posted in

Eddie Pasa

Eddie is a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS). Since starting in 2010 at The Rogers Revue, Eddie has written for Reel Film News (now defunct), co-founded DC Filmdom, and writes occasionally for Gunaxin. When not reviewing movies, he's spending time with his wife and children, repeat-viewing favorites on 4k or Blu-Ray, working for rebranding agency Mekanic, or playing acoustic shows and DJing across the DC/MD/VA area. Special thanks go to Jenn Carlson, Moira and Ari Pasa, Viki Nova at City Dock Digital in Annapolis, Mike Parsons, Philip Van Der Vossen, and Dean Rogers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *