A Quiet Place: Day One (2024) Movie Review - Surprisingly Touching Horror Prequel

Horror, Drama, Sci-fi | 99 Min
Cover from horror movie prequel A Quiet Place: Day One (2024)
  • Director: Michael Sarnoski
  • Actors: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Alex Wolff, Djimon Hounsou
  • Writers: John Krasinski, Michael Sarnoski, Bryan Woods, Scott Beck
  • Producers: Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller, John Krasinski
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Parental: Peril, Violence, Language
  • Horror, Drama, Sci-fi | 99 Min

A woman named Sam finds herself trapped in New York City during the early stages of an invasion by alien creatures with ultra-sensitive hearing.

Welcome to Knockout Horror and to our review of A Quiet Place: Day One from 2024. The majority of you are, probably, well aware of this series. The first movie was a pretty big hit and the sequel was also very well received. The plot is pretty simple. A group of aliens with some serious misophonia invade the earth. They tear shit up pretty bad thanks to their blood rage and plated armour. Leaving the surviving humans to move around in complete silence. Lest the sound of them chewing provoke murderous rage from the incredibly intolerant alien freaks.

It’s basic stuff and people really bought into the concept. Well, I say people bought into the concept but it would seem some cinema goers missed the point completely. Leading my fiancée and I to have to sit through the entire movie with some anal douche of a human talking throughout. He was clearly there on a first date with some chick and he thought the best way to impress her was to not shut up through what is, essentially, a silent movie. Hopefully she wasn’t impressed and didn’t schedule date night number 2. Prick!

I Digress

Anyways, back on subject. The films proved popular and A Quiet Place: Day One offers more of the same. Day One picks up at the very start of the invasion. The aliens have crashed to earth and they are running riot in the city. The story follows terminally ill young woman Samira (Lupita Nyong’o) and her cat Frodo. As they make their way through post apocalyptic New York to grab a slice of pizza from Patsy’s Pizzeria in Harlem (yes, seriously, that is the plot).

Screenshot from horror movie prequel A Quiet Place: Day One (2024)

Full disclosure, I wasn’t an enormous fan of A Quiet Place. After being hugely excited by the concept and eagerly anticipating its release, back in 2018. We caught the ultra short trailer, during the Super Bowl, and our excitement levels dropped immediately. This didn’t look like the tense, slow paced, atmospheric horror that we were expecting. It looked more like a bunch of characters finding excuses to make noise so they could be attacked.

When it came to watching the movie in the cinema; I found this to be, mostly, true. Characters are pretty dumb; they break well established rules and do idiotic things simply to provoke drama. I don’t know if I would prefer it on a rewatch but I just didn’t find a huge amount to like about it. It felt, to me, like every thing it did right was accompanied by something it did equally wrong. The concept left the characters no room to move without the actions being illogical. Meaning the movie sort of boxed itself in.

Low Expectations

To say that my expectations for A Quiet Place: Day One were low would be an understatement. I went into this movie expecting nothing and came out pleasantly surprised. In fact, I would go as far as to say that A Quiet Place: Day One does a lot of what I was wanting from the first movie. Sure, the principles are the same. It is a few characters sneaking around trying not to make noise. But I feel like the execution here is a lot better.

Screenshot from horror movie prequel A Quiet Place: Day One (2024)

When characters make noise, it makes sense. When they find ways to communicate, it makes sense. Hell, as stupid as the premise sounds, it makes sense. Day One doesn’t seem to box itself into a corner nearly as often as the first movie does. Mostly thanks to the busier and more built up city environment and the larger cast of survivors. 

Whereas the scares in the original movie depended on one character acting dumb. The scares in Day One come far more organically. Through the noise one would expect from a large group of people and the noise that would be difficult to avoid in this situation. It feels cleaner and less ridiculous. Allowing the sinister and indiscriminate nature of the aliens to take centre stage. Day One, at least for me, is a far more effective and far more tense movie. 

Legitimately Touching

People expecting an action packed alien horror movie here will, likely, be disappointed. Whereas there are plenty of action scenes and a liberal amount of atmospheric tension. Day One is, ultimately, Samira’s story. There is far more of a focus on human survival than there is on action. This is a terminally ill woman finding a way to live despite death staring at her from every corner.

Screenshot from horror movie prequel A Quiet Place: Day One (2024)

Samira’s story is deeply affecting, despite how ridiculous it may seem. Her terminal illness has her fate already written in stone. She is surviving on instinct and the one thing that gives her purpose is getting that last slice of pizza. There is a deep metaphor here about finding your own purpose in life, even in the face of chaos all around you. And that message is accompanied by moments that are legitimately heartfelt and, honestly, quite powerful. This is exactly what this movie should be. Not an alien movie but a post-apocalyptic drama focusing on the human condition.

A tremendous amount of the praise here has to go to Lupita Nyong’o. Much like she did in Jordan Peele’s Us, she puts on a commanding performance that is both powerful and raw. Joseph Quinn plays an interesting foil to Samira’s resolute acceptance of her fate as young lawyer to be Eric. Eric has a strong desire to live but lacks the mental strength to find a way. The interactions between the pair provide a number of moments of both levity and sadness. Their odd couple relationships is one of the more moving in recent horror history.

A Mixed Response

Seeing a lot of opinions regarding A Quiet Place: Day One; I feel like some people are missing the point. I see a ton of user reviews point to the lack of alien backstory and military intervention as a negative. A lot of people seem to be viewing Day One as a missed opportunity to tell an action packed “Us vs. Them” story about battling an alien race.

Screenshot from horror movie prequel A Quiet Place: Day One (2024)

That’s not what A Quiet Place is about and that is never what it has been about. These are stories of human survival against the odds in a post apocalyptic world. It’s tough for people to do but if they think about this movie as more of a Last of Us style tale of human endeavour. Rather than an Independence Day style action movie. They may find a bit more enjoyment because A Quiet Place: Day One is a movie with a lot to offer.

A Few Negatives

People will hate me for saying this but the cat stuff gets annoying pretty fast. Samira’s cat, Frodo, appears throughout the movie and defies all kinds of logic. I can’t imagine a cat on earth that would remain quiet for even a minute, let alone days on end. Director constantly places focus on the cat to the detriment of the story. Almost making it feel like we are watching a kid’s film, at times.

Film makers have realised how ridiculously dumb and fickle much of the internet is and putting too much focus on a cat is one way to get idiots clapping like seals. All while buying themselves some easy and free publicity on social media. It is beyond annoying, after awhile, though the cat’s performance is impressive.

Screenshot from horror movie prequel A Quiet Place: Day One (2024)

It’s hard not to address the feeling that this is almost like a “Tales from a Quiet Place” side story. Outside of Samira’s own, ongoing, personal journey, there is very little of substance. There are no other stories being told. There isn’t a tremendous amount going on and the aliens are bystanders. This is going to disappoint people.

There are a few nods to the series here and there and a character or two that you may recognise. But much of that is fanservice and little else. It could be argued that A Quiet Place: Day One doesn’t really build on, or add much to, the series as a whole. It’s just another story from the universe and one that is deeply personal rather than impactful to the world the movies exist within.

Should You Watch A Quiet Place: Day One?

If you are looking for a touching, emotional, horror movie focused on an intimate story of one person finding life where there is only death. Then you should definitely watch A Quiet Place: Day One because it is one of the better examples. It is tense, atmospheric, moving and extremely effective. If, however, you are looking for an action packed alien movie with tons of backstory and gory scenes of violence. You probably want to give this one a miss. More like a side story from the Quiet Place universe than a film it its own right. You need to go in with your expectations set as there is a brilliant horror movie with a touching plot in here.

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