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‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ (review)

John Krasinki’s A Quiet Place was one of the more memorable offerings from the 2018 mainstream release schedule, and while A Quiet Place Part II was not as good as the first film, it was nonetheless a mostly satisfying continuation of the 2018 blockbuster.

Once again utilizing the lack of sound and, by proxy, crafting the sound design to make the presence of any noise unbearably tense, no matter how mundane any given sound may be outside the setting of the A Quiet Place franchise, the sequel did manage to continue to use its gimmick well, and expanded upon its world.

One thing that remained shrouded in mystery after the first two films, however, was where the terrifyingly sound-sensitive alien invaders had come from, and while a prequel may seem like a promise to have this explained, if you are going into A Quiet Place: Day One expecting a thorough investigation into the origins of the alien menace, you may be disappointed.

This is not to say that the film itself is disappointing, however, it is the installment with the least emphasis on horror elements, as we instead focus on the humanity of the situation and how it may impact those trying to survive this ordeal.

More specifically, we follow the terminally ill Samira (Lupita Nyong’o) and her service cat, Frodo, for the majority of the film’s runtime, getting a glance into her life in a hospice prior to the alien invasion, and subsequently following her as she navigates New York City immediately after the aliens have started their assault on Earth.

Here, she eventually crosses paths with Joseph Quinn, who portrays a British law student studying in America, and the unlikely pair go on a journey that is first and foremost about human emotion and connection, it just so happens that they are also trying to navigate a terrifying, extraterrestrial foe.

This is not to say that the film is devoid of tension and horror, as it certainly has moments that lean into the style and atmosphere of the previous installments, but it is not to the same extent as previously, as it is abundantly clear that the emphasis is on the characters and their story as humans who have to come together during a crisis.

In order for this shift to work, the performances must be strong, and thanks to the immense range Nyong’o has long since become known for, as well as the vulnerability Quinn delicately weaves into his performance, the pair are relatable and engaging, making their ordeal a worthwhile watch, even if it means sacrificing the horror and science fiction elements somewhat.

With its emphasis on drama over action, A Quiet Place: Day One may not be what people are expecting from a prequel that could have answered many outlandish questions, however, perhaps more science fiction films could learn something from this prequel about emphasizing human emotion over spectacle when telling supernatural stories, as film is after all an artform we interact with due to its ability to make us emotionally invest in fictional scenarios and characters, and A Quiet Place: Day One does a rather good job in that regard.

Verdict: 7 out of 10.

 *   *  *  *  *
Produced by Michael Bay, Andrew Form,
Brad Fuller,J ohn Krasinski

Screenplay by Michael Sarnoski
Story by John KrasinsZI, Zichael Sarnoski
Based on Characters by Bryan WZZds and Scott Beck
Directed by Michael Sarnoski
Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Joseph Quinn, Alex Wolff, Djimon Hounsou

 

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