It doesn’t bode well for a film which is supposed to be tense, frightening, foreboding --- and a lot more --- that the most interesting thing about A QUIET PLACE: DAY ONE is a beautiful white cat with black markings. Even the always marvelous Lupita Nyong’o, who plays Samira --- or Sam --- the cat’s owner, can’t compete with the gorgeous feline who steals the show.


Set as the prequel to A QUIET PLACE and A QUIET PLACE, PART II, which were directed by John Krasinski, who also co-wrote the screenplays, the baton has been passed to Michael Sarnoski as director and screenwriter. And unfortunately, the terror-inducing components of the first two films are not present here.


Sam is a hospice patient in one of the boroughs, not Manhattan. She longs to travel to New York City, most notably Harlem, for a pizza. She gets that opportunity with a small group from her facility. Grabbing her emotional support cat, Frodo, she boards the bus --- next stop Manhattan.


But before Sam can get her pizza fix, horror strikes New York --- and the world. Blind extraterrestrial creatures who navigate by sound invade Earth and all hell breaks loose. Sam and Frodo manage to evade these gangly, terrifying killers by remaining silent. How everyone automatically deduced this is a mystery, but I digress.


The dying cancer patient and her cat meet a man --- a Brit --- named Eric (Joseph Quinn), who will not stop following Sam. As they navigate the war-torn streets of NYC looking for an escape route, a deep bond develops between these three survivors.


Since the first two movies were resoundingly frightening, one would have expected this prequel to be beyond terrifying. Where do these creatures come from --- why do they feel the need to kill humans? Why don’t they eat the people they kill? And why are Sam and Eric able to talk without being found and annihilated? Wasn’t just the slightest noise enough for these huge, creepy crawlers to ferret out their prey?


When all is said and done, A QUIET PLACE: DAY ONE just isn’t the nightmarish experience it should have been. So much of the action happens off screen, i.e., the PG-13 rating. Nyong’o and Quinn have decent chemistry, but honestly, Quinn’s enthrallment with Frodo is better.


To spend an entire movie worrying about a cat is most likely not what Sarnoski intended. But his script leaves a lot to be desired --- and even more questions. Like how does Frodo stay so white? And Sam’s “I Love New York” bag should be blackened with dirt by the end --- and it’s not. And how did Eric find a relatively perfect pizza in a clean box? These are the kinds of distractions that ruin what was supposed to be a killer of a thriller.


Opinion: Don’t Bother!





A QUIET PLACE: DAY ONE is not your typical sci-fi horror film. While it does sustain suspense throughout its relatively short run time of 100 minutes, it will not have audiences consistently squirming in their seats.


The movie is a prequel to the first two movies in the franchise, and it is critical to give proper attention to the part of the title that indicates “Day One”. While strange events are taking place in modern-day New York City, the story does not delve into anything remotely resembling a counterattack by government forces in response to an alien attack. Nor do we see panicked TV reports from other U.S. cities about New York’s plight. The closest reaction to the attack is the brief presence of several police helicopters advising people to evacuate the city. Again, this is the first and only day portrayed in the film.


The movie features very strong performances from Lupita Nyong’o as Sam and Joseph Quinn as Eric, two people on the run from the alien attack by creatures who can’t see you but can hear even the slightest sound you might make. In that vein, Sam’s darling cat, Frodo, while treading silently most of the time as cats do, accidentally brushes by a small bell which does not escape the supersonic hearing of the creatures. Frodo is a frequent and welcome character throughout the film.


Directed by franchise first-timer Michael Sarnoski, who wrote the script based on the original story by prior director John Krasinski, this version is focused on the two characters who start as complete strangers but soon demonstrate the need for human connection.


Other notables in the cast include Alex Wolff as Reuben, a nurse who oversees a group of people, including Sam, who are in hospice. Veteran actor Djimon Hounsou appears in several scenes in what amounts to a cameo, but his presence is always welcome in any movie.


Of course, A QUIET PLACE: DAY ONE has nearly zero dialogue, making it a mostly visual experience. If you go in expecting a full-scale war between the evil aliens and the beleaguered American citizens --- you will be disappointed. On the other hand, it is a story that is simultaneously sad and uplifting. While the film does contain its share of jarring noises and sudden appearances by the creatures, it’s much more a story about the human spirit amid dire circumstances.


Opinion:  Mild See It Now!