A Quiet Place: Day One (2024)
A Quiet Place: Day One (2024)

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 40 min.

Release Date: June 28th, 2024 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Michael Sarnoski Actors: Lupita Nyong’o, Joseph Quinn, Alex Wolff, Djimon Hounsou

 


 

A

lready surviving long past her grim cancer prognosis, Samira (Lupita Nyong’o) lives out her unpredictably numbered days at Little Firs Hospice Center in New York City. To take her mind off the physical pain, Samira passes time by playing with her pet cat Frodo and writing obscene poetry about the other patients to irritate well-meaning but annoying nurse Reuben (Alex Wolff). Lured on a day trip to a theater by the promise of getting pizza in the city afterwards, Samira witnesses first-hand the violent and horrific arrival of extraterrestrial life. Monstrous beasts with an acute sense of hearing begin tearing through the city, exterminating anything that emits sound. Narrowly weathering the aliens’ initial onslaught, the intrepid girl determines to make her way to Harlem as the United States military commences bombardment of the city’s bridges to slow down the encroachment. When she encounters Eric (Joseph Quinn), a terrified law student stranded in the subway, she allows him to accompany her on a personal mission to find peace in a world quickly succumbing to chaos and death.

A terminally ill patient is a fascinating lead, a stark counterpart to the premise of a widespread apocalypse. Here, it’s an intimate examination of a greater extrapolation of monumental ruin and destruction – a personal tragedy amid a far-reaching one (eventually boiling down to just a friendless duo). As with many of the better, modern monster movies, this utilization also allows the focus to remain on human qualities, bringing a greater realism to its scenario of outlandish extraterrestrial incursion, while also presenting the challenging notion of relating and responding to a doomed persona. “This wasn’t part of the plan.”

A certain poetic nature similarly resides in the lingering shots of Sam’s fatigue and resentment at her condition; a pan over a gloomy cemetery; the constant contemplation of one’s mortality; and the momentary salvation of protecting and rescuing a helpless subject – that of a cuddly cat (perhaps like Ripley’s orange furball from “Alien”). Even a brief glimpse of a marionette show, with a sullen puppet escaping his earthbound existence by flying away on a balloon for a few elevating seconds, marks an artistic, touching reverie from standard monster-movie mayhem. As it turns out, once the plot of carnivorous creatures gets underway, with the almost unfortunate explanation of raiders from outer space, the actions grow somewhat less engaging. After all, audiences are already well-versed on these man-eaters’ specific quirks, appearances, and vulnerabilities, making their attacks familiar, even if spontaneous and amplified by ear-popping noises (they’re also seen in plain view early on, dispensing with any air of mystery).

Fortunately, the attention paid to character development wins out, as the two leads are mesmerizing to watch, from the postapocalyptic woes of seeking out food and medicine, to navigating claustrophobic spaces brimming with enemies, to the extreme measures taken for survival (and for fleeting psychological normality) – all of which, due to the abundance of prior properties that addressed comparable setups, feels marginally derivative. Ultimately, nothing in “A Quiet Place: Day One” is unique, with much of the desperation and destruction and suspense having been seen before in other sci-fi/horror projects (predominantly those rooted in zombie lore). Oddly, since this story takes place before humankind has been reduced to an endangered species, the trope of human villainy hasn’t yet taken root, enabling uncommon attitudes of kindness and decency that usually evaporate when resources and safe havens dwindle.

Once again, the inability to communicate regularly is an effective tactic for isolation, fear, generating a sense of alienness, and even highlighting environmental hazards. Shadows and bumps in the night gain edginess, alongside dark, abandoned locales, though it’s still bothersome that the blood-lusting stalkers seem to materialize from thin air, despite being large, plodding (but also featherlike and agile when needed), and always in the presence of people with a limited awareness of their surroundings. At times, the film is even romantic and charming, though it does its best to infuse robustious rampages and jump scares every time viewers might forget that this is a horror movie. It’s unusual for a terrifying sci-fi crisis to be designed chiefly to demonstrate the simple pleasantries (or virtues) of humanity – from desires and dreams, to easy contentments and uplifting compassion, to heartwarming and tear-jerking sacrifices – which is where this series has gone before in some of its best moments. In the end, however, its quickness, crispness, visual excitement, and routine entertainment value are transitory; “A Quiet Place: Day One” doesn’t really add much to the world of noise-sensitive world-conquerors. It’s quite far from a necessary installment.

– The Massie Twins

  • 6/10