Combustible Celluloid Review - A Quiet Place: Day One (2024), Michael Sarnoski, based on a story by John Krasinski, Michael Sarnoski, Michael Sarnoski, Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Alex Wolff, Djimon Hounsou
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With: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Alex Wolff, Djimon Hounsou
Written by: Michael Sarnoski, based on a story by John Krasinski, Michael Sarnoski
Directed by: Michael Sarnoski
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for terror and violent content/bloody images
Running Time: 100
Date: 06/28/2024

A Quiet Place: Day One (2024)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Soundless Bite

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

What could have been a cheap cash-in, killing the mystery of the creepy sound-seeking monsters, Michael Sarnoski's prequel A Quiet Place: Day One is instead a surprisingly riveting, intricately-designed, and even touching adventure.

Samira, or "Sam" (Lupita Nyong'o) is in a hospice care center, diagnosed with cancer. Her nurse Reuben (Alex Wolff) convinces her to go to New York City to see a show, and she agrees only on the condition that they stop for pizza. She gathers up her cat, Frodo, and boards the bus. The trip is cut short by some kind of occurrence. Before long, strange objects begin falling from the sky, and monsters start attacking anything that makes noise.

Sam manages to survive the initial onslaught. After another monster encounter, she decides that she wants to go to Harlem to have one last slice of pizza from Patsy's. On the way, she encounters Eric (Joseph Quinn), an Englishman who came to New York to study law and knows no one. She reluctantly lets him tag along. Slowly they learn to take care of each other, and they decide that they won't give up until they get that pizza.

Following up director Sarnoski's excellent debut feature Pig, A Quiet Place: Day One begins by offering the factoid that New York City regularly generates 90 decibels of noise, or the equivalent of a human scream.

The movie proceeds to use sound in a most intriguing way (as did the previous two entries). In one scene, the characters find themselves under a scaffolding in a rainstorm; the hammering sound of water on metal gives them enough cover to be able to whisper, and to introduce themselves. And a use of music in a later scene provides an emotional jolt that will be hard to forget.

In truth, the idea inspires the filmmakers to find ways to tell the story visually, without relying on talking; the audience is invited into the tale, rather than being told what to think. The new characters Sam and Eric are surprisingly sympathetic, Sam hard-headed and tragic, and Eric tender and lost, like a puppy dog; he demonstrates several acts of bravery to show his loyalty. We come to love them. (Henri, played by Djimon Hounsou, who becomes a major character in A Quiet Place Part II, is introduced here in a respectful and unobtrusive way.)

But best of all is that A Quiet Place: Day One did not use its prequel status to explain the origin of the monsters. Their real power lies in their mystery, and the movie keeps it intact, making this a worthy addition to a strong, scary series.

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