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A Quiet Place: Day One (2024)

This alien-invasion prequel holds its own in the series due to two engaging, almost wordless performances, and one terrific service cat.
Our Rating

Genre(s): Horror, Science Fiction

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Actors: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Alex Wolff, Djimon Hounsou

Year: 2024

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Country: USA

If you were already dying like Lupita Nyong’o’s character Samira, is it strange than an alien invasion would make you feel alive again? A hospice patient, she barely makes the effort to put on street clothes each day and is exasperated at the attempts by the kind nurse (Alex Wolff) to participate in activities. When a slice of her favorite pizza is promised as part of a group trip into New York City to see some theater, she begrudgingly goes. Sucks that the puppet show is interrupted by an alien invasion.

The opening credits point out that the constant din of the city has about the same decibels as a human scream. The aliens (who rain on the city like an intense meteor shower) hunt by sound alone, whether it’s a cough, the slam of a door, or the crunch of glass. Or a scream of fear. The invasion happens seemingly in minutes, with explosions and chaos in the street. At one point, Lupita’s face is coated grey in a suffocating layer of industrial ash. She staggers blindly, terrified, with pedestrians (and occasional spidery aliens) emerging around her from dust clouds (a chilling visual reminder of 9/11).

Lupita’s main companion is her adorable service animal, a black and white cow kitty named Frodo. In a way, since Samira knows her time is up sooner than later, she decides to make her way home to Harlem for that damn slice of pizza. A random man, also alone, joins her because, well, the end of the world. Eric (Joseph Quinn), somehow seems more alone than she is. His family is in the UK and he has nowhere to go. Sometimes the nearest person ends up being the one to keep you alive.

A Quiet Place: Day One serves as a prequel to the other two, well, quieter films. In the timeline of A Quiet Place and A Quiet Place II, the invasion is well established, the action takes place in the countryside, and the beasties are a bit more scarce. But in the beginning, the aliens are literally everywhere, as many monsters as there are humans to be picked off in Manhattan. So there is a lot of (notably PG-13) carnage as well as lots of giant skittering beasts with heads that bloom open to consume. No explanation is offered. The plot is as spare and raw as a completely unknown and unexplained catastrophe. Those who survive are the ones that have quickly learned to be quiet.

This prequel has all the tension of the other films, so fans should be pleased. There are a few ways it cleverly ties into the other films, most notably as a brief origin story for Djimon Hounsou’s character that appears in all three films. There are also a few quirks, like why wouldn’t Eric discard his business tie immediately? Why would people think it’s a good idea to walk in masses down the street to get to evacuation docks? Why does an entire apartment building seem deserted within hours of the invasion? But most importantly, how is that darn cat such a GOOD cat?!? 

Now, for that cat. Lupita is as fantastic an actress as you will find for a mostly wordless performance. Kudos, too, to Joseph Quinn for establishing (again, with mainly expression) a kind, homesick, and terrified character that isn’t just dead weight. But then there’s Frodo (played by two cats, according to the credits). If my cats were witness to an alien invasion, they’d disappear in a second, all self-preservation. But Frodo sticks around, always managing to find his way back to his person. He doesn’t claw out his owner’s eyes when clutched to her chest in the midst of explosions. He happily eats his food when she surreptitiously opens a can (which suddenly seems like the loudest sound in the world). And he even goes on a couple unplanned swims! Frodo is clearly the star of this movie. And don’t worry, he has nine lives.

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