I am not a fan of prequels. Usually they are very hard to pull off well. I also don’t think every great movie needs to be a franchise. When I heard about A Quiet Place: Day One, these were my initial thoughts. I really  enjoyed A Quiet Place. It was fresh, it was original, it was different. Then came A Quiet Place 2, which was good, but did not reach the same heights of the first film. And now A Quiet Place: Day One– a prequel. I just didn’t think it was going to capture the same magic as the original. Well, sometimes, I am just plain wrong.

A Quiet Place: Day One just released in theaters this weekend. It is directed by Michael Sarnoski, who also directed the 2021 masterpiece Pig. Day One stars Lupita Nyong’o as Samira and Joseph Quinn as Eric. It is a Sci-Fi thriller that is set in the near past (judging by the iPod Samira has, maybe late Naughts or early Teens). And it provides another powerful story in this world, from a different point of view.

In the film, we meet Samira, who is a cancer patient in a hospice facility. Understandably, she is not happy here, and you get the sense everyone there is just waiting to die. A nurse there talks her into coming with the group to catch a marionette show in the city- New York City. She goes only because he promises they can stop for pizza in the city before coming home. While attending the show, the city comes under attack by our alien invaders. After a number of harrowing and jarring scenes, we see Samira with a group of other survivors, desperate for a way out. By this time, they have all learned not to make any noise if they don’t want to be taken and killed. Samira eventually leaves the group to try to make it on her own. That is when she meets Eric, a law student from Kent, England, and the two become an unlikely duo as they are trying to make it to boats that are evacuating all the survivors away from the city.

As I was sitting and watching the movie, all I could think of was those social media posts where commenters are encouraged to describe a movie poorly. I just felt like this one would be a slam dunk- “Dying girl and English law student scour New York City in search of pizza.” This movie is so much more than that. The story is well crafted. Within minutes, I was attached to the Samira character. I wanted to find ways to protect her and keep her safe during the invasion, though she quickly demonstrates she would probably be protecting me instead. Eric took a few more minutes to warm up to. He initially came across as irritating, incapable, just a huge liability. But as their relationship and partnership grew, I genuinely cared about what would happen with these characters. And then there is Frodo, the cat. I don’t know how else to put this, other than to say Elijah Wood is now the second best onscreen Frodo, replaced by this amazing feline.

The story, the plot itself was not groundbreaking. It is exactly what it claims to be- this is Earth, specifically New York, on the first day of this alien invasion. And people have to find ways to survive. It is basic Quiet Place 101 at this point. And that’s okay. It is a formula that works well, why tinker too much with it? What really makes the story feel fresh and new is the characters and the acting. Each actor delivered a wonderful performance, whether they were on screen for most of the movie like Nyong’o, or only onscreen for short spurts like Dijon Hounsou, everyone does a really nice job here. And that makes the unoriginal story feel fresh and new.

The cinematography in this film is powerful and expertly executed. We get angles of the aliens and the people and shots that just turn the intensity up to 11 at times, and then we get shots that are quiet and peaceful and powerful. Pat Scola was the cinematographer for the film. He also worked with Sarnoski on Pig. He does a great job of using the cameras and shots and angles to tell the story in a visual way, since there is so little dialogue. Something he masterfully achieved in Pig as well.

To me, in my limited filmmaking experience, this seemed like a master class in sound design. There is so much silence in this film, which is to be expected. The long periods of near silence make the loud moments pop with intensity. Every sound is crisper because of the lack of noise. Water in a fountain or rain on a metal roof were almost deafening in the best possible way. The sound built the tense moments, and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.

The film clocks in at around 100 minutes, which means the pacing needed to be tight to fit the whole story in. To me, it didn’t feel rushed at all. It also didn’t lag, which is important when you are spending so much time in quiet during the film. I worried going into the theater that I might fall asleep after a long day of work, a cool dark theater and reclining seats- it was the perfect recipe. Instead, I found myself on the edge of my seat, enjoying a story that unfolded at just the right speed.

The message of the movie to me was all about what it means to live, instead of just enduring. We see Samira at the beginning of the film, and she is just enduring, another day, one day closer to the end. By the end, she has found a purpose and a way to truly live again, and takes her destiny in her own hands instead of just waiting for it all to end. There is something powerful about a message like that in a movie that is essentially a monster movie. Everything is falling apart around her, but somehow she is pulling herself back together.

Overall, I enjoyed this film. I felt like it was paced well, it gave me characters I cared about, and brought the story to a satisfying conclusion. You can’t ask for a lot more out of a movie. This film soars on the performances of the main actors, Nyong’o and Quinn, as well as the master storytelling of director Sarnoski. If I were to nitpick anything, I felt like the aliens in this movie got too much face time. The original Quiet Place really built on the suspense of not really seeing the aliens much. It makes them loom a little larger and little scarier. In this film, they are just running all over the place. We see them constantly. But that really is a nitpick. If you liked the first two Quiet Place movies, you will enjoy this one too. I recommend seeing this in the theater. There is something powerful about a full theater being super quiet. Don’t wait to watch this one at home. The film is rated PG-13, and that feels right. I would definitely not recommend this for younger kids, or even older kids who might be sensitive to jump scares or alien monsters. If you have a kid that your on the fence about it, I would say see it first, and decide if they can handle it.

This film was really enjoyable for me. Was it as good as the original? For me, no, but it was still well done. The pacing moved along at a good rate, the characters were sympathetic and likable, the sound was incredible. It is worth seeing, and worth seeing in a theater. I give A Quiet Place: Day One 4.5 stars out of 5.

If you’ve seen A Quiet Place: Day One let me know in the replies below what you thought of it. Share your thoughts on the series overall, which of the three films is your favorite?

Movies That Make Us A Quiet Place episode from 2019:

Our episode on the film Pig, also directed by Michael Sarnoski:



Skeptical of prequels in general, I was pleasantly surprised by “A Quiet Place: Day One.” Directed by Michael Sarnoski, the film stars Lupita Nyong’o and Joseph Quinn and effectively expands the original’s universe. It follows Samira, a cancer patient, and Eric, a law student, as they navigate New York City during an alien invasion. The characters and performances stand out, making the familiar plot feel fresh. With amazing sound design and incredible cinematography, I found the film gripping and well-paced, awarding it 4.5 out of 5 stars, recommending it for theater viewing.

Jake Dietz
Jake Dietz is a father, husband, Latter-day Saint, movie lover, and all around geek. He considers himself a member of many fandoms including The Cosmere by Brandon Sanderson, The Lord of the Rings, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Star Trek, Star Wars, and many, many more. If it has a good story, Jake is interested in it.


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