'A Quiet Place: Day One' is a compassionate spinoff

‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ is a compassionate spinoff of a horror spectacle

By: - Contributor
/ 08:00 AM June 28, 2024

'A Quiet Place: Day One' is a compassionate spinoff of a horror spectacle

Sam (Lupita Nyong’o) and certified scene-stealer Frodo the cat (played by two kitties Nico and Schnitzel) run for their lives as aliens invade the Big Apple. Image from Paramount Pictures International

Continuing its character-driven stories, the third film in the “A Quiet Place” franchise transports the audience from the rural refuge of the Abbotts into the restless concrete jungle of New York City.

The film opens with an ominous intertitle that informs us about the average sound level in the Big Apple: on average, it generates the same decibels as a human scream. Bearing in mind the onslaught of murderous aliens with ultrasonic hearing, the innocuous factoid is a brutal reminder.


Sam (a gaunt Lupita Nyong’o) is a former poet who has lost her zest for life and lives in a hospice with her cat Frodo (a delightful scene-stealing feline). Despite her intentional disdain for social engagement, Reuben (Alex Wolff), a resident nurse, persists in encouraging her to live a little despite the enormous pain. Nothing perks Sam up more than a trip to New York, her former home. To sweeten the pot, Reuben promises her a visit to her favored pizzeria. So off Sam goes on a bus with her cat. Yet before she can partake in a slice of pizza, a massive explosion goes off and she blacks out. Upon regaining consciousness, she is huddled with strangers and forced into silence.


Djimon Hounsou makes an appearance in the first act, and, considering his prominent role in the sequel, the audience might expect the film to fill in the blanks of his life. We will not see him again until the final act because this is about Sam, her cat, and her desperate need to eat a pizza. With her mind made up, she leaves her hiding place and treks back to her apartment in Harlem. Even with the occasional extraterrestrial hiccups—including a superb staging of an alien attack on a group of fleeing survivors—Sam forges ahead. That is until she meets Eric (the rising star Joseph Quinn) and the second and best act unfolds.

'A Quiet Place: Day One' is a compassionate spinoff of a horror spectacle

While running away from an alien attack, Sam (Lupita Nyong’o) meets Eric (Joseph Quinn), and the two form a brief but memorable friendship. Image from Paramount Pictures International

Writer and director Michael Sarnoski has a knack for pulling the right strings i.e. a proper understanding of when to ratch up the tension (bringing out the aliens) or when to ease out (bringing out the cat). For instance, the sequence where Eric searches for a transdermal patch for Sam is a perfect example of his brilliant direction. Even if it feels like one, it is careless to describe the film as “an alien movie for people uninterested in aliens.” Sarnoski is smart enough to sprinkle the film with additional alien lore without the protracted expositions.

“A Quiet Place: Day One” is a tense science fiction horror spectacle, but at its heart is a drama about the power of humanity amid catastrophic loss. Anchored on the brilliant performances of its lead actors, it is at its strongest whenever it focuses on the evolving and engaging bond between Sam and Eric. Once reluctant and indifferent, Sam sheds her tough exterior to reveal her enormous compassion. In return, Eric discovers courage borne out of gratitude and friendship. There is a beautiful and poignant sequence inside a deserted jazz club where Eric entertains Sam while she reconnects with her happier past where the audience might hope the scene to continue forever and wrap themselves inside its comfort.

“The World’s End,” one of the finest and funniest alien invasion films, surrenders to an aimless but wisecracking Brit extolling the merits of imperfections as a basic human right and the foundation of human civilization. Exasperated, the extraterrestrial colonizer questions him about what he wants. Without skipping a beat, he responds, “We want to be free to do what we want to do!” No other line better encapsulates Sam and no other scene is more compelling than her final one.

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TAGS: A Quiet Place, Lupita Nyong'o

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