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A Quiet Place: Day One Review – A Chilling Return to Silence

The prequel to the acclaimed horror series explores the origins of the alien invasion with new characters, intense suspense, and a gripping narrative.

a shot from a quiet place day one
Credit: YouTube / Paramount Pictures

“A Quiet Place: Day One” returns audiences to the silent, perilous world first introduced by John Krasinski in 2018. The story, this time, sets its backdrop in New York City, offering a fresh and chaotic setting for the origin of the alien invasion.

The film explores the initial impact of the noise-sensitive creatures, known as Death Angels, on urban life. Fans of the series were eager to see how the prequel would expand on the mythology and provide a deeper understanding of the silent apocalypse’s onset. The film’s shift to a densely populated cityscape contrasts with the rural settings of the previous films, amplifying the sense of dread and urgency.

official trailer for a quiet place day one
The movie trailer for A Quiet Place: Day One. Credit: Youtube / Paramount Pictures

Plot and Character Insights

In A Quiet Place: Day One, a cancer patient named Samira (Lupita Nyong’o) faces sudden upheaval during an alien invasion in Manhattan. The film opens with a gripping sequence depicting chaos and devastation caused by the aliens, immersing viewers in the dire situation. Samira’s journey intertwines survival with emotional turmoil as she battles her illness amid the apocalypse.

a still from a silent place day one
Samira ‘Sam’ played by Lupita Nyong’o. Credit: YouTube / Paramount Pictures

The film effectively juxtaposes Samira’s internal battle with her disease against the external threat of the aliens. Despite her grim prognosis, her resilience and determination to live add depth to her character, making her a compelling protagonist. The addition of her cat, Frodo, serves as a symbol of hope and companionship in a world that has otherwise descended into silence and terror.

Samira’s encounter with Eric (Joseph Quinn), a far-from-home stranger, introduces another layer of complexity to the narrative. Despite their initial mistrust, their relationship evolves through shared peril, eventually forging a bond of reliance and trust. Eric, a law student in an unfortunate situation, contrasts the disaster’s impact on everyday people.

a shot from a quiet place day one
Eric, played by Joseph Quinn. Credit: YouTube / Paramount Pictures

They repeatedly test their partnership as they navigate through the city’s ruins, evading the hyper-sensitive aliens. The filmmakers build suspense in these scenes, utilizing the eerie silence and sudden bursts of noise to create heart-pounding moments. The dynamic between Samira and Eric evolves organically, with their interactions revealing their vulnerabilities, strengths, and the human capacity for empathy and solidarity in the face of unprecedented horror.

Performances That Stand Out

Lupita Nyong’o delivers a standout performance as Samira, capturing her character’s vulnerability and resilience with remarkable depth. Nyong’o’s portrayal is nuanced, effectively conveying Samira’s initial resignation to her fate and her gradual transformation into someone who rediscovers a fierce will to live. She ensures that her expressive acting emotionally invests the audience in her character’s journey, making her struggles and triumphs feel palpably real.

a shot from a quiet place day one
First encounter between Samira and Eric. Credit: YouTube / Paramount Pictures

Joseph Quinn complements Nyong’o with a strong performance as Eric, who becomes an unlikely ally in the midst of chaos. Quinn brings a subtle intensity to Eric, whose own backstory and motivations unfold gradually throughout the film.

His character starts off as a somewhat reluctant companion, but as the narrative progresses, he reveals layers of courage and empathy that make him indispensable to Samira’s survival. The chemistry between Nyong’o and Quinn is palpable, adding emotional weight to the story and making their shared moments of peril and respite deeply affecting.

Their dynamic is central to the film’s emotional core, offering a poignant exploration of human connection in extreme circumstances. As they navigate the alien-infested ruins of Manhattan, their growing bond provides a touchstone of hope and humanity.

Some critics note that the character development in the film could improve, but Nyong’o and Quinn’s performances undeniably anchor dramatic moments, adding human depth to horror. Their interactions blend emotion, from reflective to high-stakes, keeping audiences engaged in their survival.

Direction and Visuals

Michael Sarnoski’s direction aims to balance character-driven drama with the franchise’s signature suspense and horror. Known for his work on Pig, Sarnoski attempts to blend intimate storytelling with the high-stakes tension of a survival thriller.

The film features stark contrasts between the bustling cityscape and the eerie, desolate aftermath of the invasion. In using New York City’s iconic landmarks to create visually striking scenes, such as a silent, deserted Times Square, the cinematographer successfully emphasizes the unsettling silence that pervades the city. 

The behind-the-scenes with Michael and Lupita. Credit: Motion Picture Association

The film uses sound to build tension and scare, leveraging silence and sudden noises. This strategy immerses viewers in the characters’ struggles and enhances suspense, with each noise crafted to heighten dread and unpredictability.

Box Office Performance

A Quiet Place: Day One exceeded box office expectations, grossing $53 million domestically in its opening weekend, setting a new record for the franchise. The film also garnered $98.5 million globally, demonstrating its strong international appeal. Despite fierce competition from Inside Out 2, which topped the box office with $57.4 million, Day One attracted a significant audience, with 3.6 million patrons flocking to theaters.

The movie owes its success to its well-timed release during a heatwave and its appeal to diverse demographics. The film’s performance underscores the enduring popularity of the franchise and its ability to draw viewers to cinemas.

Fan Reception

Fans have had mixed reactions to Day One, reflecting a range of expectations and preferences. Many fans appreciated the film’s attempt to expand the franchise’s universe and its focus on new characters.

The emotional journey of Samira and Eric resonated with audiences, adding a layer of depth to the story. The film’s exploration of Samira’s battle with cancer and her determination to survive in a world overrun by noise-sensitive aliens offered a fresh and compelling narrative. Fans praised Lupita Nyong’o for her nuanced performance, which added gravitas to the character and her struggles.

However, the film’s lack of sustained suspense and the predictability of certain plot elements disappointed some fans. Opinions were split on the prequel’s shift from tension to character focus. The initial scenes of the chaotic alien invasion impressed me, but the pacing felt uneven later. Some fans felt that focusing on character development diluted the horror elements. While this enriched the story, it reduced the nail-biting tension that marked the first two films.

The film’s setting in New York City, while visually striking, also drew mixed reactions. The city setting posed fresh challenges for characters, contrasting with rural scenes in earlier films. Some fans enjoyed this new backdrop, appreciating the increased scale and scope it brought to the franchise. Some felt the new setting detracted from the intimate, gripping atmosphere of the originals.

Moreover, the introduction of new characters and the absence of familiar faces from the earlier movies were points of contention. While Nyong’o and Quinn delivered strong performances, some fans missed the continuity provided by the Abbott family. The new characters lacked depth in backstory and motivation, leaving fans feeling detached.

The Future of the Franchise?

Despite criticisms, the film has garnered a solid fanbase who appreciate its contribution to the franchise’s lore. The film’s expanded A Quiet Place universe and character-driven focus resonate well with audiences. The mixed reception highlights the challenges of balancing new elements with the expectations established by the original films. The film sets the stage for potential future stories in its niche within the franchise’s silent, terrifying world.

A Quiet Place: Day One expands the franchise with fresh perspectives on alien invasion and familiar themes of silence and survival. It excels in character development and emotional storytelling but lacks the intense suspense of its predecessors. Fans will appreciate its exploration of Day One, though it doesn’t fully match the chilling atmosphere of the originals, and newcomers will find it a gripping introduction to the series, setting the stage for future instalments.

Written By

I'm a grad student at Boston University, pursuing an MS in Journalism. I was born in India, grew up in Singapore, and hold a BA in Media and Communications from Symbiosis Center for Media and Communication in Pune. I'm passionate about storytelling and eager to make an impact in the field of journalism.

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