A Quiet Place: Day One movie review – Lupita Nyong’o is riveting in this pulsating prequel with a throbbing heart | Hollywood

A Quiet Place: Day One movie review – Prequels of popular franchises are usually treated as merely a cash cow. But Michael Sarnoski’s prequel to John Krasinski’s post-apocalyptic franchise is a searing portrait of everything that A Quiet Place stands for – human resilience, victim bonding, and the sound of silence. It’s set in New York City, when the noise-detecting Death Angels first invade Earth.

A Quiet Place: Day One movie review: Lupita Nyong'o stars in the prequel
A Quiet Place: Day One movie review: Lupita Nyong’o stars in the prequel

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The dystopian thriller revolves around Sam (Lupita Nyong’o), a terminally ill patient at a care centre, at a time when Death Angels attack NYC. Like Emily Blunt, Lupita makes for a riveting emotional anchor, who can speak volumes without words. She uses her moist, pain-ridden eyes and trembling body language to convey the fear and trauma embedded in a franchise like this.

Joseph Quinn and Lupita Nyong'o in A Quiet Place: Day One
Joseph Quinn and Lupita Nyong’o in A Quiet Place: Day One

But the setting makes all the difference. The film starts with a note on how noisy the city of New York is. It ends with Sam’s comment that the city can be heard when one is quiet. It’s an emphatic comment on the rising decibels in metropolitan cities under the guise of urbanisation, and how noise pollution is a beast whose perils are often overlooked. NYC has been previously positioned on screen in all its romantic glory, with the corporate hustle bustle a key aspect of the romanticisation, but rarely has it been depicted with all its blaring sounds and excessive noise like in this film.

Also, unlike the post-apocalyptic setting of the first two parts, the urban setting of the prequel lends it a more relatable urgency. One gets a sense about how the city one proudly claimed once, now stands obliterated and uninhabitable. Production designer Simon Bowles pulls off a terrific job, with his staging of NYC in ruins. With shoes strewn all over the footpaths and car remains littered all over the streets, NYC turns into a graveyard, peppered with slight hints of how lively and vibrant the city used to be. It makes poetic sense when Sam navigates the deadly streets of the city with a white ‘I heart NYC’ tote bag.

Since it’s the first time that humans encounter Death Angels, there lies more excitement in how they discover ways to trump them. Unlike the previous two parts, there are no guns or safehouses or even the iron will to not utter any word. Sam and her fellow NYC dwellers learn everything on the go, make mistakes, and pay the price. There are more deaths, more threats, before the humans do what they do best – adapt and evolve. They learn to use nature well, raising their decibel to whispers, when drowned out by the pitter-patter of rain, or making quick jolt-like thuds at the first sight of a lightening, since it’s naturally followed by a roaring thunder.

Humans not only come closer to nature as a defense mechanism, but also start valuing their other senses more. When their voices are silenced, their other sensory organs get more activated. When Sam talks about how her late father played the piano “beautifully,” like her, we yearn for the sound of the piano. We feel the sense of normalcy when we see her smell the books lying unattended on the street. Her cat’s furry touch comes as a much-needed assurance in crisis. And when she walks against the crowd seeking evacuation to go looking out for pizza, you don’t question the unreasonable demand and just go along. For a slice of pizza had never been more valuable than when the Earth is undergoing an apocalypse.

A Quiet Place: Day One is a prequel of the first part
A Quiet Place: Day One is a prequel of the first part

It’s also refreshing to see that family isn’t the primary force that drives this instalment. Instead, in this one, strangers come to each other’s rescue. It’s particularly endearing to watch Eric (Joseph Quinn), a law student from London, gravitate towards helping out and fulfilling Sam’s final wishes. The glue, which starts with her cat, then transcends to him listening to her father’s piano that he’d never heard and relishing her favourite pizza place that he’d never visited. The Stranger Things star may not be as effective as her nurse Reuben (Alex Wolff) when it comes to feeling the fear in every bone of his body, but his youthful charm and intriguing goodness help craft Sam’s fulfilling arc.

A Quiet Place as a franchise is all about the typical dystopian traits – aliens, apocalypse, and the human survival instinct. But when it transpires in the lap of one of the most happening cities of the world, it ceases to be distant and unfamiliar. It becomes more pulsating, more immediate, and most crucially, more palpable. So much so when the lead characters utilise a timey thunder to let out deafening screams, you can’t help but feel both the throbbing frustration and the ensuing relief of disturbing a quiet place.

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