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'A Quiet Place: Day One' Review

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June 27, 2024
Hunter Friesen
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A Quiet Place, the franchise that suffers the most from sound bleed within multiplexes, returns to nearly four thousand screens this weekend. Any fan needs to pray that they’re not seeing it in a room next to a showing of either Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga or Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. A24’s newest little indie, Janet Planet, would actually be the perfect companion piece, with its sweet sounds of summer barely registering over a whisper. But the absolute silence that A Quiet Place: Day One dwells in may be a necessary method of cracking down on the loud talkers, creaky seats, and loud munching that goes on in today’s theatrical environment. A lost battle today may mean a victorious war later. That's probably wishful thinking, though.

Taking over the reins from previous writer/director/star John Krasinski, who was busy with IF, is Michael Sarnoski, who burst onto the independent scene in 2021 with the incredibly unique Nicolas Cage vehicle, Pig. As par for the course, Sarnoski finds himself leading a film with a budget 20x that of his previous one, a task that many before him have crumbled from. But the sophomore director, who also pens the screenplay (story credit shared with Krasinski), doesn’t fault under the pressure, finding a few paths to breathe life into this franchise, one that is further proving itself to be a one-trick pony.

Those who have seen Pig will find it unsurprising that the best scene within this story of aliens and bloodshed comes relatively early on at a marionette show. A puppet blows up a balloon and dances around with it for a little while, Alexis Grapsas’ score twinkling as the stage light gives it a soft glow. It’s a scene that ranks relatively low in terms of significance, yet there’s something powerful about the stillness it creates just before fire starts raining down from the sky.

From there, we pretty much go through the motions laid down by the previous two entities, as well as other creature features like Jurassic Park. Steven Spielberg’s 2005 remake of War of the Worlds came to mind a few times, with the fear of the unknown being just as spine-chilling as the ashy destruction. Sarnoski and his sound team make you see, or, in this case, hear, the world differently. The opening text states that the noise of New York City registers around 90 decibels at all times, which nearly equates to a constant scream. Everything that makes up that figure becomes a death sentence in this new apocalypse. A rip of a shirt or opening a briefcase too quickly is all that it takes to have the monsters descend the skyscrapers.

For as well as they pull it off, this franchise still only pedals the same set piece for the monsters. It’s the one where the characters are walking quietly, someone accidentally knocks over a can or piece of glass, the monsters start chasing them, and then the characters sit in silence for a few moments until the monsters hear something else. We’ve seen it over a dozen times now, and the five to six times we experience it here are no different.

While the story of Day One answers the “how” question of what happened to the world in the previous two entities, the characters within it answer the “why.” More specifically, they answer the question of why people try to exist in this world, why they’re clinging on when hell has taken over. Centering that is Lupita Nyong’o’s character Samira, who is terminally ill and already checked out on life. Nyong’o has already proved her masterful horror chops in Us a few years back, her facial expressions and body movements excellently developing the doppelganger premise. The minimalist dialogue here does her no harm, with her strengths as a performer being even more evident. The cat that accompanies her journey may as well be third billed just behind Joseph Quinn, who also puts in some good work. The world of A Quiet Place is not a place for dogs, that’s for sure.

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