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‘A Quiet Place: Day One’

Third entry in alien invasion tale fails to scare, engage

Third entry in alien invasion tale fails to scare, engage

“A Quiet Place: Day One” is the third movie in the “A Quiet Place” series of films. The first two movies in this franchise were directed by John Krasinski, who made the excellent “I.F.” fantasy feature that was released earlier this summer. This time around, we have a gentleman named Michael Sarnoski taking the helm, in only his second directorial venture (with the Nicholas Cage “Pig” feature, from 2021, being his first).

Originally, Jeff Nichols, who was the man behind “The Bikeriders” (which I reviewed just last week), was slated to direct “A Quiet Place: Day One.” It is, of course, impossible to know if this latest QP would be a better, more engaging horror adventure IF Nichols made it instead of this Sarnoski person, but I have the vague, unprovable feeling that it just, somehow, WOULD have been a more enjoyable experience IF Jeff Nichols (or John Krasinski) directed it. It is expertly shot.

It tells its unique story with an even hand and a smart, measured pacing, focusing on two central characters – “Sam” (played by the great Lupita Nyong’o) and “Eric” (played by Joseph Quinn, who I did not know before this) who are each in their own rights and in their chemistry between them – very, very, good.

‘A Quiet Place: Day One’

‘A Quiet Place: Day One’

So what the heck is my issue with this movie? After seeing it twice in the last few days, I still am not exactly sure. Like a lot of people, I was pretty blown away by the original “A Quiet Place” in 2018, six years ago. I do not believe there was ever a movie quite like this before. The premise was that there was a family of five – a dad, a pregnant mom, a daughter and two sons – struggling to survive on a farm in Upstate New York after the majority of the human population was completely destroyed by Outer Space monsters, who are about 20 feet tall, very fast moving, while being blind but with very very good hearing. If you sneezed or coughed or spoke above a whisper, these horrible violent creatures would suddenly appear, breaking through your roof or wall and rip your head off.

Why were these Space Invaders doing this? What could they possibly want with Earth or the millions of human beings they were slaughtering so brutally? The movie never revealed any of this, which was part of what was so terrifying. There was no purpose, no reason, no logic behind these bad guys. They had no voices, they never attempt to communicate anything. All the family could do was stay as quiet as they possibly could, being very, very careful as they went about their lives, occasionally wandering into the woods or into the nearby town to try to get some food.

By the end of that first movie, the family stumbled on a loud high frequency radio feedback noise that they discovered could make these evil Alien’s heads explode. I loved that. It felt satisfying that this formerly hopeless, powerless family could actually do something/anything to defend itself with a direct attack that caused these villains a violent, permanent end. I remember how, in the theater where I watched this original “A Quiet Place,” I was actually fairly scared, even sweating, as the monsters approached our family. One of our characters stepped on a nail at one point, and they had to stop themselves from crying out, lest they be heard by the Monsters. The Mom delivered her baby in a tub, and had to do everything she could to not cry out with her labor pains. And the Dad courageously, nobly, chose to sacrifice himself at one point to save his family. There was just so much that “worked” in the original movie. With this movie, it all feels pretty stale. We know who these creatures are. It takes place in New York City on the very first day of the alien’s invasion, where they do all their horrible killing, as nasty and indiscriminate as always. It is pretty cool seeing all the Monsters scale the sides of the skyscrapers before dropping down on the streets and taking out hundreds of people in just a few seconds. And the idea of Lupita Nyongo’s character being a Hospice patient, who finds a reason to survive, if only for a few more hours, against this obvious Evil, does resonate. This movie is very well made. It just feels kinda pointless and played out, though. And it mildly frustrates me that I just couldn’t connect with it. Oh well.

Hopefully, next week I will enjoy “Despicable Me 4,” the next movie I hope to review. “A Quiet Place: Day One” is now playing in theaters everywhere.

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