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  • Writer's pictureJamie

A Quiet Place: Part One - Review

A Quiet Place is (I think) a pretty rare gem in the horror franchises. They’re not so beyond scary that people can’t watch them, and they have humanity at it’s core, meaning you’re not just tuning in to see some monsters run around and take people out at the ankles. 

There is always that fateful day where a franchise must explain its origin in a cash in prequel, however, I feel the complete opposite about this prequel, taking on an intimate and emotionally effective story, with really beautiful music and tension that did have me grimacing at the screen. 

Michael Sarnoski is an exciting director to me, with his previous work, Pig being a refreshing take on the action genre, centering on a mysterious and reserved character just looking for his simple life back. I think Day One has similar elements to it, with a strong focus on the appreciation for life and finding the beauty within the chaos. 

We open in a hospice, as Samira (Lupita Nyong'o) reads out a poem of disdain, not exactly enjoying her life at the hospice. I have to admit, at this stage of the film, I was sceptical if I was going to like Nyong’o’s character as she seemed slightly “young adult” in how she was written. That was quickly forgotten as we venture into the city, peaking into her trauma and motivations. 

As the world descends into a silent apocalypse, with the monsters raining from the sky. Samira quickly decides she is not going to stick around the theatre she has been locked in while the monsters roam around. She takes her, and her cat Frodo on a city wide trip to Harlem. Along the way, she meets Eric (Joseph Quinn) who she is initially unsure of. Warming to him eventually, Eric joins on the trip to Harlem, with perilous obstacles in their way. 

You would think that the lack of talking would make for a slow burn connection between the two leads, but I weirdly think that it has the opposite effect. Both Nyong’o and Quinn have such expressive faces, selling whatever state they are in, that I feel like you understand their connection without having any words exchanged. Although there are little pockets of conversation, that I think serves a lot of the emotional weight of the film.

I really did not expect to connect to this film in this way. I was ready to be a bit tense, probably gasp and then leave with my fingers coated in popcorn remnants. However, i didn’t get popcorn, but I was able to cry at pivotal emotional climaxes. 

The visual style of the film is also quite impressive, not just with excellent creature design, but the desolate city is felt through the shot choices, production design and VFX all coming together in a really strong way. The film uses this to create (sometimes to manipulate) an atmosphere where you either feel safe or absolutely don’t.

The sound is used similarly effectively, as you can imagine based on the film being centred around silence. Although I was worried there was going to be a few moments of too much silence, where you could hear the chewing and whispering of friendly neighbourhood cinemagoers. However, Alexis Grapsas’ score is used in those moments to enhance your feelings, whether that be tension and fear or hope and triumph. The score has got your back, and not in a way that begs you to feel something either. 

I am a biassed fan of most apocalyptic media that takes a focus on the humanity involved, being able to tell little stories within a big world. I think A Quiet Place: Day One, captures that just as I wanted it to. It made me want a lot more from this world, or any other world like it. Hey, it doesn’t have to be quiet next time, make it a loud place and I’ll be there.


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