'A Quiet Place: Day One' - Silence is golden in the scary prequel

  • by Gregg Shapiro
  • Tuesday July 2, 2024
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Alex Wolff, 'Frodo' the cat, and Lupita Nyong'o in 'A Quiet Place: Day One'<br>(photo: Gareth Gatrell/Paramount Pictures )
Alex Wolff, 'Frodo' the cat, and Lupita Nyong'o in 'A Quiet Place: Day One'
(photo: Gareth Gatrell/Paramount Pictures )

The first thing you're going to want to know about "A Quiet Place: Day One" (Paramount) is that the cat survives. You know it's been on your mind since you saw the first of several trailers months ago. Animal lovers across the globe can breathe a sigh of relief.

The next thing you might be wondering about is how "AQP:DO" holds up in the trilogy. As prequels go, the movie does a great job of setting the tone and mood, establishing the horror we have come to expect from the previous installments.

Sam (Lupita Nyong'o), a poet with terminal cancer, is living out her last days in a hospice/palliative care facility outside of Manhattan with her cat Frodo. Reuben (Alex Wolff), a caregiver at the center, tries to be friendly to Sam. He arranges a theater trip to the city and convinces Sam to join the others on the bus with the promise of pizza afterward. Sam brings Frodo to what turns out to be a marionette show.

From the moment they arrive, something is amiss. Four fighter jets fly in formation overhead. There are oversized military vehicles speeding down the street. The sound of helicopters fills the air. Back on the bus, the passengers see explosions in the distance before the bus itself is damaged in an explosion.

Sam survives and manages to find her way back to the theater where she discovers Reuben is there with Frodo. Having figured out the aliens' sensitivity to sound, everyone stays quiet. But the destruction of the city's bridges by the military gives the survivors a sense of hopelessness with no chance of escape. After Sam witnesses Reuben killed by an alien, she sets out on her own with Frodo in her arms.

As Sam gathers supplies at an abandoned store, the military encourages survivors to head to the South Street Seaport because the aliens are afraid of the water. Not far from where Sam has survived another alien encounter, leading Frodo to run away, we see Eric (Joseph Quinn) emerge from a flooded subway station.

He somehow finds Sam, and while she discourages him from following her, they spend the rest of the movie together, evading multiple attacks and eventually making it to Sam's beloved Harlem pizza parlor, which has been destroyed.

Remember when the aliens took over New York City in "Cloverfield?" "AQP:DO" feels a little like that, but with an unexpected touch of hope and humanity. Director/screenwriter Michael Sarnoski (whose "Pig" was one of the best movies of 2021), handily proves that he's capable of delivering something on this scale. He treats the concept respectfully.

The "love story," if that's what you want to call it, that develops between Sam and Eric, is superfluous and manipulative, but doesn't necessarily get in the way. The survival story, which is the very heart of the movie, beats much stronger. Rating: B+

'A Quiet Place: Day One' screens at AMC Kabuki 8 and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema New Mission. www.aquietplacemovie.com

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