A Quiet Place: Day One –

I want to make some noise about A Quiet Place: Day One.

When the first A Quiet Place broke out in 2018, I fell in love with it quickly. Empowering to the Deaf Community and anchored by some stunning sound design, the film was a hit with audiences but I never believed that it needed a franchise. (In fact, I thought that creating further stories might even damage the effectiveness of the original.) 

But, with A Quiet Place: Day One, the series not only has another solid entry but they may have also breathed new life into the franchise for the future.

Directed by Michael Sarnoski (Pig), A Quiet Place: Day One follows Sam (Lupita Nyong’o), a terminally-ill cancer patient who feels as though her life is slipping away. Living in a hospice centre in New York City, her days are spent participating in group discussions about dealing with grief and pain with little else to do. However, when the city comes under attack from an alien invasion, suddenly Sam’s world is flipped on its ear. In the midst of the pandemonium, she and a stranger named Eric (Joseph Quinn) set out on a quest to find safety in silence.

In Day One, the new ‘quiet place’ is anything but. By moving the series into New York City, we’re set in a world of infinite noise. Unlike the rural farm setting of the previous films, Day One drops the viewer directly into the heat of battle. Buried under dust and granite, people everywhere are scrambling to find safety amidst the carnage. (In fact, the comparisons to the devastation of Ground Zero are undeniable.) From the outset, Sarnoski positively immerses the viewer in smoke, noise and destruction and he keeps the intensity going throughout the film. 

This is chaos unleashed and New York is unprepared. 

In many ways, Day One is comparable to James Cameron’s sci-fi classic, Aliens. Whereas Ridley Scott’s original film Alien was a claustrophobic nightmare, Cameron blew open the franchise by giving the viewer… more. More aliens. More action. More chaos. Even though it was a film set within the same world as Scott’s classic, it felt like an entirely different planet. Day One has a similar effect, inviting the viewer to enjoy the same world as A Quiet Place, but giving the viewers a different experience entirely. We’re not only waiting for a twig to snap. Now, the beasts roar with the terror of an oncoming freight train. This keeps the film feeling fresh, even if we’re already familiar with the ‘rules’.

In fact, if A Quiet Place continues to shift locations around the world, it’s entirely possible that new stories can keep this franchise alive. Every new setting could potentially bring new challenges to face. Move it to the mountains of Colorado? The war-torn Middle East? The Indigenous populations of the North? Suddenly, every new spot around the globe offers opportunities that seemed impossible when the pulse-pounding original was first released.

This isn’t the story about one family anymore. It’s about all of us.

But Day One’s greatest asset isn’t any particular action scene or grizzly death. Instead, the best part of the film is Nyong’o who delivers a spectacular performance as Sam. Grappling with what’s left of her life, Sam is less concerned about surviving the alien attack than she is making the most of the time that remains. With little dialogue to work with, Nyong’o is left to bring her character to life solely through her eyes and facial expressions and she does so with fire in her belly. Although the film also features strong work from Quinn, it’s Nyong’o who does the emotional heavy lifting but the Oscar winner absolutely puts life in Sam’s soul.

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

After all, for Sam, the few moments of life she has left are all that she has. Much of this film is about her simply trying to recapture the moments of her life that have made it special. Her wandering through the streets of New York may seem nonsensical to the viewer (at first) but, to Sam, it has intense purpose. She understands that the ‘world may be ending’ but she wants to live a little bit more before it does. It’s a beautiful statement about clinging to joy in the midst of trauma, whether it’s personal losses or alien invasion.

Admittedly, the film does fall short of the original film in moments. (And some leaps of logic, mostly involving their feline friend, are noticeable.) But, honestly, the film is so strong and so energetic that one cannot help but become caught up in the action.

A Quiet Place: Day One is available in theatres on Friday, June 28th, 2024. 

Leave a Reply