Bottom of the barrel

Will Ferris
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A Quiet Place: Day One (15, 99 Minutes)

The problem with a fresh, innovative story is that people with a lot of money will keep on recycling it until their pockets are full. When A Quiet Place came out in 2018 to worldwide acclaim, actor John Krasinski cemented a new place in Hollywood as a renowned director – second only to being the husband of Emily Blunt.

The concept is basic – America, a few years from now, is occupied by big, insectoid aliens scuttling around biting people’s heads off. Sounds almost too generic yet Krasinski implemented one of the most brilliant designs to ever grace the horror franchise – hardly any spoken dialogue.

The blind monsters hunt through sound, which means the human survivors communicate through sign language. Worse still, Blunt and Krasinski also had to trek cross country with their kids in tow, including a new-born baby.

The first film felt like an event. A monumental shift in the history of horror. Then came a sequel with slightly less momentum about it after many delays thanks to the pandemic.

Now comes DAY ONE – a prequel (because we really needed one, didn’t we?) with no Krasinski at the helm and new, unknown characters thrust upon us. This film takes place on…well, you can guess.

Cancer patient Sam (Lupita Nyong’o) is understandably peeved as life slips away fast, directing her frustrations towards her limited support network. But the timing of her trip to New York couldn’t be any worse as meteors begin to fall from the sky and the monsters lay waste to the city, rampaging through the streets and climbing the skyscrapers.

Rather spontaneously, Sam finds a kindred spirit in petrified law student Eric (Joseph Quinn) and the two embark on a mission to escape, along with Sam’s treasured cat, Frodo (no Elijah Wood to be found purring here).

Again, conceptually this is a neat idea with some brilliant chase sequences, emotional performances and a lot of monster munching, but having the humans learn about the need to communicate in silence is less impressive than the shocker of these circumstances just being the norm in the first film.

It was our task, as an audience, to learn and conform to the impact of silence against our presumption of there being words to help us along the journey.

That’s where DAY ONE falls short. It feels more like a generic thriller than anything bold or exciting, with repetitive tropes and far too many jump scares for its own good.

It is a classic example of what happens when original work births a franchise with no sign of stopping and little to no undercurrent story that may prove to blow us all away through the use of big reveals or twists later on.

Nyong’o and Quinn are reason enough to watch, along with some pretty awesome visuals, but what else can they squeeze from a sponge that’s already dried up?

RATING: 3/10