Thursday, June 27, 2024

‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ Review – A Deeply Affecting Drama Nestled Within a Creature Feature

A Quiet Place: Day One shifts gears from previous entries, but not quite in the way you’d expect. Set in a bustling New York City where the noise levels are at a constant 90dB, the equivalent of a scream, it’s possibly one of the worst places to be for an invasion by extraterrestrials who hunt by sound. Writer/Director Michael Sarnoski delivers plenty of creature feature intensity and breathless suspense but it’s used more as a backdrop to a deeply affecting drama of human connection and compassion, Day One ultimately bearing more in common with Sarnoski’s 2021 meditative drama Pig. In other words, Day One eschews the standard monster invasion origin story in favor of something far more poignant and compelling.

Day One begins in a hospice center support group, where an apathetic Samira (Lupita Nyong’o) is forced to contribute to the discussion by lead nurse Reuben (Alex Wolff). Determined to break through her defensive shell, Reuben convinces Sam to join in on an excursion into the city for an afternoon show. She reluctantly agrees on the firm condition that this trip yields pizza, bringing along her resourceful, lovable cat, Frodo. But her sole desire to get a slice of pie goes unfulfilled when creatures crash into the city and destroy everything in their wake. 

Djimon Hounsou as “Henri”, Lupita Nyong’o as “Samira” and Alex Wolff as “Reuben” in A Quiet Place: Day One from Paramount Pictures.

Don’t expect any new developments as far as the creatures are concerned; Sarnoski is far more interested in the human characters here. As buildings crumble, exits out of the city collapse, and the death toll mounts, it’s the smaller moments that take precedence. The wordless acts of grace and kindness among strangers at one of the lowest points in any of their lives. That’s evident in the way that Reuben cares for Frodo when Sam is initially separated from him. Or in the way that a stranger, A Quiet Place Part II‘s Henri (Djimon Hounsou), watched over her when she was unconscious, and in how Sam aids two wayward youths. But it’s at its most impactful in the budding friendship between Sam and shell-shocked survivor Eric (Joseph Quinn).

Their journey together is the emotional throughline and beating heart of the film, peeling back layers of their humanity and backstory piecemeal and culminating in a triumphant third act sequence that reminds what life could be like if we cut out all the noise and focused on being present. Nyong’o and Quinn bring incredible depth almost exclusively through facial expressions and physical performances, in perfect unison with Sarnoski’s talent for showing, not telling. A Quiet Place: Day One doesn’t bother to explain anything, and it doesn’t need to. What’s important is the small details and nuance of its characters, and Day One is rich on both fronts.

A Quiet Place: Day One movie review

Lupita Nyong’o as “Samira” and Joseph Quinn as “Eric” in A Quiet Place: Day One from Paramount Pictures.

Instead of an apocalyptic monster movie, Sarnoski instead gifts a touching story of a woman determined to meet life on her terms. Sam’s journey is less shaped by the harrowing, intense encounters across the city and more so by the warmth and empathy from Eric and strangers like him. It’s soulful and reflective in an unexpected way, deeper and more effective than its predecessors. Sarnoski pulls the heartstrings with ease, thanks to his naturalistic approach and two powerhouse lead performances. Well, three, as Frodo is a natural scene-stealer.

Day One shifts the franchise further into drama territory over horror, but it’s tough to care when the story is so compelling and rewarding.

Plan to grab some pizza after; you’re going to crave it.

A Quiet Place: Day One invades theaters on June 28, 2024.

4 out of 5 skulls

The post ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ Review – A Deeply Affecting Drama Nestled Within a Creature Feature appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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