‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ Review: The Franchise’s Best And Most Interesting Installment

a quiet place day one

Many people liked A Quiet Place well enough but wondered if we needed a sequel. The sequel we got was divisive, to say the least. So, most of us were shocked there would be another entry. Even as the team of amazing talent was assembled, some remained justifiably skeptical. However, it seems we underestimated this film. A Quiet Place: Day One is the movie we deserved the whole time. It brings the energy that we should have started the franchise with.

A Quiet Place: Day One follows a terminally ill woman named Samira (Lupita Nyong’o) who gets stranded in Manhattan the day aliens land. These extraterrestrials have ultrasonic hearing and kill without hesitation. As the city falls apart around her, Sam sets out on a quest to make it to Harlem. Armed with her cat and Eric, the scared law student (Joseph Quinn) she meets along the way, she navigates through a terrifying version of the only home she has ever known.

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Even the casual filmgoer probably assumed there would be some gentle sobbing into your movie snacks when it was announced Michael Sarnoski (Pig) would helm A Quiet Place: Day One. This was further confirmed when Nyong’o (Us and Black Panther) and Quinn (Stranger Things and Hoard) joined the cast. They are two mesmerizing actors who seem to be collecting heartbreaking roles like infinity stones. They force us to invest in this nearly silent film as it shakes up its franchise for the better. Sarnoski brilliantly exploits their natural ability to easily elicit empathy as he builds a story centered on the tragedy of the inevitable.

Writer/director Sarnoski finds that delicate balance of tension and terror the original film almost reached. A Quiet Place: Day One understands the enormity of the situation while it cranks up the threat and gives us the destruction that the first two movies could not. If we learned anything this decade, one of the most chilling sights imaginable is a major metropolis like New York becoming a ghost town. Adding roving packs of merciless aliens only raises those stakes. I appreciated the Death Angels getting to be the sinister predators we assumed they were when they ate a kid in the first movie. They finally get to cause the carnage I’ve been longing to see. However, they still somewhat take a backseat to a story more interested in the human experience during a catastrophe. 

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Lupita Nyong’o as “Samira” and Djimon Hounsou as “Henri” in A Quiet Place: Day One from Paramount Pictures.

Samira and Eric form a crucial trauma bond that’s the beating heart of A Quiet Place: Day One. They become each other’s emotional support as they try to get through an impossible situation together. This relationship also allows both actors to showcase why they stay booked and busy. Aside from this being genius casting from a talent standpoint, it helps paint a picture of New York more realistic than most media achieves.

Samira is a Black woman who has lived in the city her whole life and has decided to go out on her own terms. She is in survival mode but also has her priorities and refuses to let an alien invasion stop her. Eric is a kid from across the pond who moved to a new country to attend law school. He is rightfully frightened and knows he won’t make it left to his own devices.

One of the things that I love about this story is that it never explicitly acknowledges race. It puts two phenomenal actors in two standout roles and lets the narrative unfold around them. The choice to not make it about race allows the story to wander into territory that might not have been found had they tried to say something purposely profound.

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A Quiet Place: Day One lends itself to the idea that Black women deserve care and support. I love that message for obvious reasons. We are raised to navigate others’ feelings and are instilled with a sense that we must put everyone else first. Even to our detriment, like Tess in Barbarian (2022). Samira also exhibits this to a lesser degree as she tries to aid people she meets on her journey. However, who takes care of Black women? How often do those we provide for, return any amount of that support? One of the reasons this movie hits so hard is because it shifts the narrative. I noticed this before Samira and Eric met, as characters Henri (Djimon Hounsou) and Reuben (Alex Wolff) kick off this thought experiment. What if people protected Black women instead of just tweeting about it? 

Samira knows her time on this planet is winding down. She is not seeking help as she embarks on this journey. This is why when she decides to go home to die on her terms, it’s a powerful stance. It makes her one of the few characters in this franchise whose motives make sense. All she has left to lose is her cat. However, if she reaches Harlem, she can say goodbye to the places that mean the most to her. This is also the tragic shoe hanging over A Quiet Place: Day One that we hope never drops. To paraphrase Audre Lorde, she is deliberate and (very almost) afraid of nothing.

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As expected, Nyong’o gives an award-caliber performance that underlines that, even with an Oscar, she has not nearly gotten enough recognition. Sarnoski’s script provides her the playground to give us another stellar leading performance. The subtly and strength she brings to this character is practically an acting masterclass. This is easily one of my favorite roles I have seen her in, and it serves as a reminder that she is that girl.

While many people are obsessed with Frodo the Cat, who admittedly gets almost as many scenes as Lupita, the humans rounding out the cast are also pretty fantastic. Djimon Hounsou and Alex Wolff prove they understand the assignment. It was also nice to see Hounsou’s character get a name on this outing and learn more about his backstory. One of my issues with the last movie is that he should have been given more to do. I also love that Wolff seems to like hanging out in the genre because it has given us a seat to watch his acting glow-up since playing the kid in Hereditary. They remain two actors who always leave us wishing they had more screen time. However, nobody is selling fear quite like Joseph Quinn can in the year 2024. 

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Quinn conveys an entire backstory and adds texture to this character even though he shows up after the choice is silence or violence. He makes Eric’s loneliness, anxiety, sense of helplessness, and the human need to connect with another person almost tangible. After I caught Hoard last year, I tried to explain to friends that Quinn is a frustratingly good supporting actor. So, it’s bittersweet that most of us are discovering this right as he seems poised for leading roles. A Quiet Place: Day One affords him room to play in this weird career intersection. He is a natural scene thief but only uses that power when appropriate and never for self-gain. While this is another supporting role on his resume, it is also another prime example of him being a captivating scene partner.

A Quiet Place: Day One is a great example of a PG-13 horror movie. But it’s also big, beautiful, tense, and finally understands the enormity of the situation without losing sight of the human condition. It is the best of the franchise and makes me so upset most award shows religiously snub horror directors and actors. I am not just saying that as a millennial who has had their heart broken by Sarnoski’s other film. This movie is firing on more cylinders than it has any right to. It might be one of the biggest surprises of the season.

Have you seen A Quiet Place: Day One? Then let’s have a slice of pizza and watch the world end together at @misssharai.

  • A Quiet Place: Day One


‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ is big, beautiful, and tense. The film expertly navigates a more interesting avenue found within this world without losing sight of the human condition.



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