A Quiet Place: Day One Will Leave You an Emotional Wreck

Lupita Nyong’o as “Samira” and Joseph Quinn as “Eric” in A Quiet Place: Day One from Paramount Pictures. Photo credit: Gareth Gatrell

I love the A Quiet Place franchise. I think the first film is one of the best horror movies of the 2010s, and in my opinion, A Quiet Place Part II is one of the best genre sequels of all time. So naturally, A Quiet Place: Day One was one of my most anticipated movies of the year, but I was admittedly somewhat hesitant about it.

Seeing someone other than John Krasinski in the director’s chair was cause for concern, so I wasn’t sure if this prequel would maintain the same level of quality as the previous films. But as a big fan of those movies, I had to give this one a chance. I bought a ticket for opening night as soon as I could, and now that I’ve seen the film, I’m happy to report that it’s a worthy entry in this all-time great franchise.

A Quiet Place: Day One was written and directed by Michael Sarnoski, and it stars Lupita Nyong’o, Joseph Quinn, and Alex Wolff. The movie follows Sam, a terminally ill cancer patient who lives with her emotional support cat in a hospice, as she participates in a group outing to Manhattan led by Reuben, one of her caretakers.

At first, the trip seems just like any other, but after a short while, all hell breaks loose. As the name of the film suggests, it’s day one of the invasion that leads to the post-apocalyptic world of the A Quiet Place franchise, and Sam is stuck right in the middle of it. Throughout the ordeal, she meets and parts ways with a handful of people, but when she comes across Eric, the two form an unexpected bond as they traverse the city and try to stay alive.

Right off the bat, I have to warn you that the horror in A Quiet Place: Day One isn’t nearly as good as it was in the first two movies. John Krasinski excelled at creating unbearably tense moments that would have us holding our breath as we inched closer and closer to the edge of our seats, but Michael Sarnoski unfortunately doesn’t have that same knack.

Sure, there are plenty of times in this film when the characters’ lives depend on whether they can get from point A to point B without making a single sound, but they’re not as effective as fans have come to expect from this franchise. Don’t get me wrong, these moments are by no means bad, but Sarnoski simply doesn’t make you feel the danger in your bones the way Krasinski could.

Instead, the horror in A Quiet Place: Day One is at its best when the monsters are going for the jugular. These creatures are just as terrifying as they’ve ever been, so seeing them go all-out on a crowd of helpless humans is an absolute blast. What’s more, a couple of these scenes also feature genuinely disorienting camerawork, so when the aliens put Sam in a state of panicked confusion, they’ll have a similar effect on you as well.

A man covering a woman's mouth
Lupita Nyong’o as “Samira” and Djimon Hounsou as “Henri” in A Quiet Place: Day One from Paramount Pictures. Photo credit: Gareth Gatrell

That alone is enough to make this movie worth a watch, but the real heart and soul of A Quiet Place: Day One is the characters and their story. Let’s start with Sam. She’s played wonderfully by Lupita Nyong’o, and when we first meet her, she has the kind of tired indifference that can only come from knowing you’re going to die soon.

She’s in some sort of support group meeting, and at one point in the session, she reads a poem she wrote. It’s all about how much she hates the hospice and her fellow patients, but the way Nyong’o delivers it lets you know without a doubt that her character doesn’t care one lick if the poem offends anybody. She’s simply done with all that, but as the film goes on, she starts to show a wider range of emotions.

For example, there are times when she’s genuinely happy, there are moments when she’s scared to death, and later on, there are scenes where the pain from her cancer puts her in a weakened state. Unsurprisingly, Nyong’o nails every single one of these tones, so no matter what Sam says or does, you never once question her sincerity.

Along similar lines, when Eric first appears, he seems like the kind of sad, weak man who’s going to be more trouble than he’s worth, but as he becomes more comfortable with his new companion, he gains a confidence and a strength we never knew he had. In fact, this guy eventually becomes super charming, and actor Joseph Quinn pulls off every step of that transformation without breaking a sweat.

What’s more, Nyong’o and Quinn have amazing chemistry together as well, so you won’t just become attached to their characters as individuals. You’ll also love the relationship they form, and that relationship makes A Quiet Place: Day One more than just a vacuous creature feature. This is a genuinely touching and compelling exploration of life, love (although not necessarily romantic love), and goodness amid unspeakable tragedy and suffering, and Sam’s terminal illness makes the monsters a clear metaphor for the real-life problems we face every day.

At its core, this movie is all about living life to the fullest and making the most of the short time we have on this earth, and it focuses in a particular way on the importance of real human connection. It’s a moving story that’ll make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but when it comes time to say goodbye to these characters, the film switches from heartwarming to heartbreaking.

I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that you might want to bring a few tissues with you to the theater, as the end of A Quiet Place: Day One has the potential to leave you a sobbing wreck. It’s one of the best and most emotional horror finales I’ve seen in a long time, so it’s a nearly perfect way to cap off this amazing ride.

On the flipside, I have to be honest, I don’t have any significant criticisms of A Quiet Place: Day One. Sure, there are a few things I could nitpick here and there, like the fact that Sam’s cat runs away a few too many times to realistically survive in this post-apocalyptic hellscape, but at the end of the day, the good in this movie far outweighs those minor quibbles. As I said before, it’s a worthy follow-up to John Krasinski’s two A Quiet Place films, so if you’ve been a fan of the franchise so far, I think you’re going to love this latest entry as well.

A Quiet Place: Day One is playing in theaters right now.

A Quiet Place: Day One poster
Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong movie fan, and his favorite genres are horror, superheroes, and giant monsters. You can find him on Twitter @jpnunezhorror.

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