A QUIET PLACE: DAY ONE Is a Haunting Look at Mortality and Human Connection

A Quiet Place: Day One is a haunting human look at mortality, connections, and little moments that make living worthwhile. Thanks to its premise, audiences experience most of the film sans dialogue. Yet it is such a profound, moving experience where terror and sorrow resonate in equal measure alongside exquisite compassionate moments plus comedic relief. While some directorial decisions raise a quizzical brow, A Quiet Place: Day One might be my favorite of the franchise’s trio, thanks to a phenomenal cast that delivers emotional peaks and valleys without speaking. And yes, that includes the wide-eyed, side-eyeing cat, Frodo, who is the MVP. 

Directed by Michael Sarnoski and written by Sarnoski, John Krasinski, and Bryan Woods, the film follows withdrawn Samira, played by Lupita Nyong’o (Black Panther, Us), as she shares her poetry that relays how much she hates everything to her fellow hospice members. Lupita gets tricked into attending a marionette show with the promise of pizza. Not just any pizza—but Patsy’s in Harlem. Before long, nixing any possibility of exquisite pizza, the creatures appear, falling from the sky, causing chaos, fires, accidents, and intentional soul-snatching from the ultra-hearing sensitivity of the monsters.

In A Quiet Place: Day One, the name of the game is survival, but for Samira, it’s more. Her life consists of a countdown of moments, regardless of the ill-timed arrival of monsters from the sky. 

Action Takes Twists That Channel Other Cinematic Gems

Of course, the emotional maelstrom has destructive, deadly chaos at its center. A Quiet Place: Day One builds tension as survivors quickly realize that silence is golden. But staying silent in a city with debris and shattered glass is challenging. Not to mention, the mental and psychological toll of knowing your world is entirely upended. So, naturally, people’s first response is to scream for help, look for loved ones, etc. As such, the body count is biblical. 

But Samira is also quick-thinking, anticipating problems before they arise, such as the mass exodus toward the ferries. Or, she really wants Patsy’s pizza, which is a fixation of hers throughout the movie. Some scenes similar to the 28 Days Later films, and there’s even one that screams Aliens. Besides similarities to other films, other aspects ground A Quiet Place: Day One in reality. Patsy’s in Harlem is real, as is Octavia E. Butler’s Dawn, a story about an alien invasion, that Samira finds. 

A Quiet Place: Day One Explores Humanity with Horror Beats

A quiet place day one trailer image
Paramount Pictures

Where the first movie felt like a horror film with emotional beats, A Quiet Place: Day One is the reverse. It’s a touching production with horror beats—albeit unrelenting horror beats. However, the pain, terror, and sorrow are all visceral. As is the heartwarming emotional moments between Samira and Eric, played by Joseph Quinn (Stranger Things). Eric’s a kind human stray her cat brings to her. Those brief moments to grasp normalcy and unity elevate A Quiet Place: Day One above its previous films in the series. 

In a sense, Eric’s successful magic trick mirrors the surprise and sense of fulfillment he brings to Samira. Human connection is a type of magic that too many forget the wonder of. His kindness and soulful eyes showed her that it was okay to care, reminding Samira of the wonder of living. Her existence has value, and her magical cat agrees.  

There Are Spellbinding Performances From the Cast—Cat Included

Lupita Nyong’o already demonstrated via Us that she is a genius at relaying emotions through facial expressions. But here, she uses her entire body to convey exhaustion, stress, pain, frustration, and joy. Her raw performance leaves audiences catching their breath, especially with her precious cat in tow. Speaking of, the cat, Frodo, is another one who is acting with a capital “A.” Its divine intervention is what brings Eric and Samira together. 

She finds a perfect counterpoint with Joseph Quinn, who possesses that same talent of delivering a performance through his eyes. He stole hearts in Stranger Things. He, like Lupita, understood the assignment. The casting in A Quiet Place: Day One is top-notch.

A Quiet Place: Day One Has Some Pointless Additions and Baffling Decisions

It’s not all smooth sailing, as the film makes a couple of debatable choices. While Djimon Hounsou is an exceptional actor and deserves lead roles in films, his appearance feels pointless in the film as it lacks a thematic essentialness. The only possible parallel is how he deals with a man panicking on the rooftop compared to how Samira handles Eric’s panic attack. However, the former felt like an outburst based on circumstances, while Eric’s seemed like a condition. So it feels flimsy, even inconsequential. 

The other is the final scene. While the shot is stunning and impactful, the movie does not set up Eric’s panic attacks enough. Nor does A Quiet Place: Day One adequately set up or justify Samira’s choice. It’s as though the end shot was a concrete choice, and they forced a path that did not feel authentic to the character’s development, their relationship, or the plot. The climactic end lacks a logical course. 

Lupita Nyong’o as “Samira” and Joseph Quinn as “Eric” in A Quiet Place: Day One huddled with a cat and flashnight underground
Paramount Pictures

A Quiet Place: Day One is an outstanding movie that emotionally guts you as much as it makes you jump in fright. It delivers a film that leaves audiences awash in a myriad of feelings, from terror to shock to laughter. Once it unleashes its torrent, the film swells and crests like a storm with little lulls of relief, but the feelings never cease. The monsters’ inescapable onslaught mirrors that; it’s irrepressible and unstoppable.

A Quiet Place: Day One is one of the best horror films—inarguably one of the best films—of 2024 so far. And Frodo is a wise savior who led bae to Samira! Wanna find a partner? Get yourself a Frodo!

A Quiet Place: Day One

A Quiet Place: Day One hits theaters on June 27.

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