A Quiet Place: Day One film poster and movie review

Movie Reviews

A Quiet Place: Day One

Reviewed by:
Luke Bonanno on June 27, 2024

Theatrical Release:
June 28, 2024

A serviceable prequel that never comes close to approaching the lofty heights of the two films from which it is spun.

Running Time99 min

RatingPG-13

Running Time 99 min

RatingPG-13

Michael Sarnoski

Michael Sarnoski (story & screenplay); John Krasinski (story); Scott Beck, Bryan Woods (characters)

Lupita Nyong'o (Sam), Joseph Quinn (Eric), Alex Wolff (Reuben), Djimon Hounsou (Henri), Eliane Umuhire (Zena)


A Quiet Place: Day One (2024)

by Luke Bonanno

Even the most discerning and highbrow of movie watchers would admit that there’s something special about A Quiet Place. Originality and artistry are hard to come by in major studio horror movies, but the high concept, post-apocalyptic 2018 tale had both in spades. When it became a hit, earning its modest budget back twenty times worldwide, there was no way to interpret it other than well-deserved success for a job well done by writer-director-actor John Krasinski, his small but terrific cast of costars led by Emily Blunt, and the duo of Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, whose original script was brought to life.

The obligatory follow-up came in 2021 and it too somehow defied everything we know about horror sequels, diminished returns, and the folly of trying to repeat a good idea. Because of its timing, A Quiet Place Part II, again directed and this time solely written by Krasinski, will always stand for me as the “movies are back” movie. The budget rose and with the COVID pandemic still hampering moviegoing habits, the box office numbers did not soar quite as high as the first movie. But it was still a welcome and unmistakable triumph, the first critics screening held in my region in fourteen and a half months and a film I do not hesitate to include among the the top 100 this strange, nearly half-complete decade has given us.

For the third entry into this franchise, Paramount seems to be prioritizing commerce over art. A Quiet Place: Day One is a prequel, presenting the arrival of the deadly alien race whose destruction is based on sound from the perspective of a terminal New York cancer patient named Samira (Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o). Krasinski receives credit for the story and for producing, a role that Michael Bay has now held on all three entries. But Krasinski, wife/leading lady Emily Blunt, and the Abbott family they played in the last two films are nowhere to be found this time out. Chief creative duties, namely screenplay and direction, have been passed to Michael Sarnoski, whose feature debut, 2021’s Pig starring Nicolas Cage is another one of the decade’s better films.

Samira (lupita n'yongo) and frodo the cat stay quiet in "a quiet place: day one. "

Sarnoski, who took the reins after Jeff Nichols (Mud, The Bikeriders) exited the project, deserves some credit for taking things in a new direction instead of just trying to recreate the beats of Krasinski’s two hits. But Day One is merely a serviceable prequel, one that never comes close to approaching the lofty heights of the two films from which it is spun.

Once a published poet, Sam is now unhappily in hospice. She only reluctantly shares her negative thoughts about her situation and neighbors. And she only begrugingly agrees to join them on a trip into the city to see what she later learns is a marionette show so that she can get some authentic New York City pizza. Alas, before she can get her promised pizza, the aliens descend on the city and everyone shifts to silent survivor mode.

These early sequences give Day One the feel of a big disaster movie, which the other two Quiet Place films could not be categorized. There is some genuine interest into how the franchise’s Doomsday scenario would play out in a city of eight million residents. As a native New Yorker, I cannot help but see some hints of 9/11 to the death and destruction, but Sarnoski, who’s from Milwaukee, does not lean into that much. Day One more evokes other urban apocalyptic movies, like The Day After Tomorrow and Will Smith’s I Am Legend. In quality, it falls into their ranks, several notches above Roland Emmerich’s more mindless effects extravaganzas but also a couple below the Quiet Place standard of widespread cinematic satisfaction.

Samira (lupita n'yongo) picks up a hanger-on in the unusual english law student eric (joseph quinn).

We do not much warm to Sam, although her black and white emotional support cat Frodo is a different story. It is not hyperbole to say that his safety will be most viewers’ top priority. The cast also includes Alex Wolff as Sam’s sympathetic nurse (seemingly the only other person at the hospice allowed to talk) and Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou reprising his role from Part II to a strangely insignificant degree. As the poster suggests, leading man duties are filled by Joseph Quinn, a British actor known for various BBC series and “Stranger Things.” To say that Quinn seems underequipped for leading man duties in an aspiring summer blockbuster is a massive understatement. It’s hard to make sense of his performance, which initially recalls Rain Man and proceeds to incorporate aspects of Charlie Chaplin’s iconic Tramp.

Day One is surprisingly light on thrills and chills. The aliens, seen so infrequently in the Krasinski films, are on full display here, climbing skyscrapers and gathering at the East River’s Edge to virtually shake their alien fists. (Maybe learn how to swim if you guys are journeying to a planet that is 71% water?) The more we see of these invaders, the less they inspire fear and by the film’s surprisingly anticlimactic conclusion, you’re concerned less about humans getting ripped to pieces and more about how far Sarnoski will take the pizza hunt narrative. The answer: quite a bit further than you’d think.

Day One should not sink this franchise for Paramount. A first-person video game subtitled The Road Ahead is due later this year and A Quiet Place Part III with Krasinski at the helm and Blunt at the center is tentatively scheduled for next year. But some of the allure is undoubtedly lost by a movie that is just okay by summer blockbuster standards. With a characteristically responsible/frugal budget of just $67 million, Day One is destined to enjoy significant commercial success in tandem with critical reservations.

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