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Review: A Quiet Place: Day One (2024)
(PG-13 · 1h 39m · 6.8/10) Directed by Michael Sarnoski, Starring Lupita Nyong'o

Review: A Quiet Place: Day One (2024)

There’s an unacknowledged pleasure in the apocalypse. It’s the equalizing promise that the ruling class and MAGA devout alike will all end up cast into the same lake of fire, or, in the case of the A Quiet Place franchise, eviscerated off-camera by extraterrestrial arthropods. 

However, the end of the world is tricky stuff. Those who wade into the subject risk coming off as pale imitators of George Romero’s acidic zombie satire or engaged in histrionic PG-13 violence porn ala 2012. Though A Quiet Place and its sequel rode their largely dialogue-free conceit of monsters attracted to sound to surprise blockbuster status, what set the series apart is an unrelenting optimism rooted in the preservation of the family unit, a drive to emerge unscathed with the best of civilization attached. 

Shifting the setting from Anytown, USA, to the heart of New York City, Day One asks a question largely absent from the end-of-the-world tale: how does one already on the cusp of death react to the Last Days? It’s a quandary Lupita Nyong'o’s hospice patient Samira spends most of this prequel raging over as she finds herself stranded in the city during a field trip with her fellow terminal cancer patients when the invasion occurs. She knows she’s toast regardless, but somehow still possesses an unrelenting desire to survive. 

Turning a Hollywood franchise into a character study is a risky move, but writer-director Michael Sarnoski proves his masterful 2021 indie debut, Pig, wasn’t a fluke. As Simara encounters the newly doomed with her service cat, Frodo, in tow, she’s hellbent on sucking out the last marrow of life the city has to offer while finding her true purpose. The monsters she faces may slightly succumb to CGI blandness, but Day One understands that what’s always made the movies great is a celebration of the human spirit, flaws and all, that endures even when the man comes around. 

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