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There are intimate moments in A Quiet Place: Day One that truly make an emotional connection – mostly due to an excellent Lupita Nyong’o – but overall the film is too slight and irrelevant.

I understand why it would have seemed a good idea to expand on the terrific opening of A Quiet Place – Part II and tell the story of the first few days of the alien invasion that made any sound a possible death sentence. The problem is that Day One, contrary to for example the first instalment of this franchise, doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been seen on the big screen before.

The picture’s protagonist is Sam, a terminally ill poet, played with fierce intensity by Nyong’o, who is on a day trip to New York when the invasion starts. After the bridges surrounding the city are destroyed to sequester the monsters on the island, she, her cat and a new friend embark on voyage through a deserted, dangerous New York, looking for a way out.

While A Quiet Place: Day One takes this premise and makes it into a decent, expertly told tale with plenty of scares and – as always – an exquisitely crafted sound design, the film lacks a terrific hook to really draw you in, even if new director Michael Sarnoski proves a good fit for the franchise.

As he already showed in Pig, Sarnoski feels most comfortable in the quiet, human scenes – a silent magic pantomime late in the second act is a particular stand-out – and he is immensely helped by a fully committed performance of Lupita Nyong’o, who once again proves that for very specific roles – halfway between horror and intense realism – there really is no better actress out there.

Still, the picture’s predictable narrative, character evolutions and overall message don’t raise the bar and don’t add anything of consequence to the franchise’s mythos, especially since sceptics could cynically describe the film as the tale of two people walking around, looking for a pizza and a piano.

release: 2024

director: Michael Sarnoski

starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Alex Wolf, Djimon Hounsou


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