A Quiet Place:  Day One  (15) |Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Michael Sarnoski, US/UK, 2024, 100 mins

Cast:  Lupita Nyong’o, Joseph Quinn, Schnitzel and Nico,

Review by Carol Allen

This prequel to the two successful previous Quiet Place films has a totally different cast and director, though John Krasinski, writer and director of those previous, did work with director Michael Sarnoski on developing the story for this one.  

As the title tells us, this film goes back to the invasion day the aliens, who cannot see but have super sharp hearing, first came to earth.  And the setting for the story is New York, one of the noisiest cities on earth. 

Samira (Lupita Nyong’o), living in a hospice for the terminally ill, is allowed into the city with other patients on a day trip to see a marionette show.  She wants to go to Harlem for pizza, she tells her carer (Alex Wolff).  But no, she must stay with the others.  

As they come out of the theatre the city explodes around them and the aliens reign down from the sky.   Somehow everyone cottons on pretty quickly about how silence means survival. 

Samira is trapped in the theatre for a while, then escapes under cover of a noisy rain storm determined to get to her beloved Harlem before she is killed.  On the way she encounters Eric (Joseph Quinn), an Englishman and a stranger to New York.   Fragile though she is, Samira is his only hope of survival and she reluctantly agrees to take him with her on the perilous journey back to her childhood home.

There is a third character though – Samira’s beloved cat Frodo, whom she takes with her everywhere on a lead or in her arms.  Frodo, a role shared by two cat actors, Schnitzel and Nico, is a most remarkable feline too.  Both on and off his leash, through storms, flooded subways, carried in a bag or in Samira’s arms and hiding from those alien beasties, Frodo takes it all in his stride, with never so much as a meow.  Which is just as well because as we know, silence means survival.  

The fact that once the invasion has happened any conversation has to be in whispers makes the dialogue a bit tricky to hear, which is when one most misses Kraskinki’s brilliant stroke in the earlier movies of creating the character of the couple’s deaf daughter, who was so well played by Millicent Simmonds, and whose dialogue in sign language necessitated the use of subtitles for the audience.   However Nyong’o and Quinn manage to communicate the meaning of most of their whispered dialogue through the power of their acting.  While the ending of the story of this odd trio is particularly poignant.

This time we also get more of a look at the aliens, who from a distance are reminiscent of tribes of fast moving giant lizards scampering over any obstacle plus revolting occasional close ups of slavering jaws.  But not so much as to allow them to lose their menace.

While sequels, particularly third or fourth sequels, are difficult to pull off, Day One succeeds in its own right as an intelligent and gripping sci fi thriller with strong characters.   If you haven’t seen the first two though, it would be worth your while to seek them out, to find out what happens next.