‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ Review: Does The Cat Stay Quiet?

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A Quiet Place: Day One (2024) © Paramount Pictures

When a sudden alien invasion pushes New York into a post-apocalyptic ruin, terminally ill Samira (Lupita Nyong’o) and her cat Frodo are caught in the middle of it. As she tries to navigate a now perilous landscape, she meets the anxiety-ridden Eric (Joseph Quinn), and the two must venture across the city whilst attempting to stay quiet to avoid the attention of the deadly, sound-sensitive aliens. 

★★★★✰

One of the golden rules of going to the cinema is to be quiet. Turn off your phone, let the lights dim, and escape into the sounds and sights of a movie. No film series has warranted this rule better than A Quiet Place. The original was an unexpected hit in 2018 with its unique premise: a family who communicate in sign language attempt to survive in a world overrun by sound-sensitive aliens. Part II was also received relatively well, steadily continuing the story of the family whilst introducing new characters and elements. Now, A Quiet Place: Day One hits the same marks, providing a haunting glimpse at what it was like when the aliens landed in one of the loudest places on Earth: New York City. 

Day One centres around Samira (Lupita Nyong’o), whose life is already threatened by terminal illness before the aliens even appear. She monotonously trots through each day, with her cat, Frodo, her only source of genuine comfort. Once the world comes crashing down however, the imminent threat on Sam’s life is doubled, and she sets off to Harlem to fulfil a universally understandable life goal: to have a pizza. Obviously, there is more emotional depth behind this, which is revealed in Sam’s conversations with Eric (Joseph Quinn). Having previously proven herself as a horror lead in 2019’s Us, Nyong’o successfully carries Day One just as the Abbot family did in A Quiet Place. Her predicament and motivation is undeniably sympathetic, which leads to an emotional payoff that will get the tears flowing and, without spoiling anything, make sure you never listen to Nina Simone’s Feeling Good in the same way again.

A Quiet Place: Day One (2024) © Paramount Pictures

Quinn yet again proves himself to be an exceptional up-and-coming actor; Eric was lost in The Big Apple when the aliens arrived, making his relationship with Sam the beacon of hope shining through the darkness of a ruined world. The pair’s chemistry is effectively the emotional core of Day One, and it works due to the sensitivity in their performances. Returning from A Quiet Place: Part II is Djimon Hounsou, whose character mainly serves as a cameo to connect the films.

The strength of the characters and emotional core is ultimately what elevates the average horror film above the rest, as effective tension and fear itself should be a given. Day One maintains the tension of the first two films, keeping the audience wary of their own breathing; whenever there is a scene where characters are trying not to be detected by the monstrously fast aliens, a pin drop could not be heard in the cinema. This is what has made these movies so successful: to make us realise how much we rely on sound and the fear that is created when we are forced to live without it.

The choice to show day one of the alien apocalypse in New York is relatively effective, as the film shows how quickly society falls if sound-hunting aliens are overwhelmed by the noise pollution a city produces. Since the film focuses on Sam’s point of view as the aliens arrive, it does leave something to be desired in terms of the scale of the invasion and how people learned the aliens are sound sensitive. It seems people learned pretty quickly, and unfortunately we don’t get to see much of that learning process in the film. The setting does however allow the film to boast some terrific set pieces, from a flooded subway sequence to a sequence which shows exactly what would happen if one of the aliens came into contact with a large crowd…

There are clearly touches of other New York-based alien invasion movies, such as Cloverfield (2008) and Independence Day (1996); Day One effectively recreates the terrifying chaos that would ensue if the city was overrun by hostile extraterrestrials. Amidst all the chaos is the unexpected star of Day One: Frodo the cat. Quite possibly the most well-behaved and coincidentally quietest cat in cinematic history, Frodo acts as the emotional glue which holds Day One together. He brings the characters closer, and provides a touch of comfort amidst the desolation.

The Verdict

A Quiet Place: Day One successfully hits the same mark that made the other films so special, whilst also providing a fresh backdrop for the alien apocalypse. Day One depicts the events off with emotional sincerity via its performances and balance between the tension and tenderness. With a final instalment, A Quiet Place: Part III, already officially confirmed, it seems there’s still room for the originality of this horror series to successfully please and silence audiences.

Words by Gareth Griffiths 

A Quiet Place: Day One is in cinemas now.


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