Metro Weekly

‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ Delivers the Terror (Review)

Powered by an awards-worthy turn from Lupita Nyong'o, horror sequel "A Quiet Place: Day One" makes some impressive noise.

A Quiet Place: Day One - Lupita Nyong'o
A Quiet Place: Day One – Lupita Nyong’o

The city that never sleeps comes slamming to a halt in A Quiet Place: Day One, when the ferocious, sound-sensitive alien invaders that terrorized the tough-as-steel Abbott family in two previous A Quiet Place movies land like bombs in New York City.

The gape-mouthed monsters descend on the entire planet at once, but who knows why? As noted in our Part II review, the creatures don’t actually eat people, but just maim and eviscerate every human in hearing distance because we make too much noise.

The film, written and directed by Michael Sarnoski (Pig), offers no intel on where the aliens are from, or for what purpose they’ve come or been sent. They simply mow down panicked, fleeing New Yorkers with cruel, bloody efficiency, and that’s all anyone needs to know.

It doesn’t take long for the general populace to figure out other vital info, like the fact that the sightless creatures can’t track you if they can’t hear you. Silence is survival.

When we met the Abbotts in the first film, they’d had more than a year of surviving on their small-town farm to learn the creatures’ weaknesses. However, it was only in the second film, set a day later, that one resourceful Abbott, and the audience, learned of another major weakness: these insect-like marauders can’t swim.

The second film also flashed back to what the Abbott family — headed by real-life couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, who wrote and directed the first two movies — were up to the day the aliens arrived.

Now, here we are, six years and three films into this franchise, and we’re back at Day One of the same invasion. Repeated returns to the beginning could suggest a serious lack of imagination among the creative brain trust, which still includes Krasinski, credited with co-creating Day One‘s story.

And yet, this third installment, propelled by taut disaster-horror set pieces, finds fresh currents of emotion and intensity in a setup that’s already seen a pregnant mom forced to grit out a silent childbirth while being stalked by a monster and a cute kid being snatched off a bridge.

Deaths are dealt quickly in Day One, too, where much of the intense emotion is channeled through Lupita Nyong’o’s stellar performance as cancer patient Sam. Mostly resigned to dying but still scrappy as hell, Sam’s living in hospice in Brooklyn, and happens to be in the city with her support group to see a show on the day the aliens crash like meteorites into Earth.

The invasion is swift and brutal, with Nyong’o, dusted with the debris of disaster, delivering edge-of-your-seat scary-movie acting. In sharply edited scenes of mass panic and evacuations, Sam’s alarmed, alert point-of-view points the way.

Under no obligation, three films in, to play coy with concealing the creatures, or piling them on, Sarnoski finds creative ways of showing off their scale and disgusting CGI maws in bits and pieces. We usually hear them coming, thanks to dense, pounding sound design. And we can practically see what Sam sees in Nyong’o’s vividly open performance. Accompanied by Frodo, her cheery cat on a leash, she hustles through the chaos.

Also fighting for their lives are her nurse Reuben (Alex Wolff, also great) and somewhat stranded Englishman Eric (Stranger Things’ Joseph Quinn). Beneath the sci-fi frights, the film considers this disaster through characters we don’t often see in this cinematic situation: a dying woman and a transplant far from home.

Sam also runs into Djimon Hounsou’s Henri, who was introduced near the end of Part II as someone who reaches a safe haven. So the movie dangles several lines of hope for her, yet nothing is promised, except that screaming only gets you killed faster.

A Quiet Place: Day One (★★★★☆) is rated PG-13, and is playing in theaters nationwide. Visit

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