Wednesday, June 26, 2024

A Quiet Place: Day One

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Samira (Lupita Nyong’o), a poet, is dying of cancer. She chooses to deal with the challenges of her condition through wit and sarcasm, keeping a notebook handy to record her thoughts. Reuben (Alex Wolff), a care worker at the hospice, takes the patients on a trip to the city to watch a marionette show, which Samira reluctantly agrees to in exchange for a promise of pizza. The promise is no longer fulfilled as they all find themselves amidst an alien invasion, with dead bodies piling up everywhere. The extraterrestrials are very sensitive to sound, and so silence is key to survival. They shelter along with other survivors at the theater. When helicopters announce that people are being evacuated to the islands, everybody heads to the port but many are fatally ambushed along the way. Samira runs into a distressed Eric (Joseph Quinn), a British law student suffering from severe anxiety attacks. Will they survive?

A Quiet Place: Day One is a First Contact narrative. If we are to believe what Hollywood says about blood-thirsty aliens that spell extinction for us, then all we can ever do is run. We don’t ask the alien questions, because we’re most likely not getting an answer. In this regard, this film makes logical sense. The problem is, this is already the third film in this franchise. My thicc ass has been running since the first film came out in 2018, brah. We can’t just run forever. We need answers. Why are the aliens here? Are they on vacation? Will they be voting for Biden or Trump in November? We don’t know because they don't tell us. Perhaps, they never will.

And maybe that’s just the double-edged sword that John Krasinski ended up with as far as this franchise is concerned. There is no stopping him from churning out a new film or television series every year. Despite the human massacre happening in this universe, there are a lot of survivors whose stories can be told. And that’s the issue. The perspective is always that of the survivors. Unless one of the aliens gets chummy with Emily Blunt in movie number three and serves her a scalding pot of hot tea as to why dem aliens are here, we would never know. Because that’s simply the limit of this franchise’s storytelling device.

And that leads us to the next question because there are rumors that a third film will eventually get made. Can they bring anything new to the table? Because despite the jump scares and the exhilarating twists and turns of every film, people will eventually get tired of the gimmick and start asking questions. Perhaps they can introduce a scientist character with a dead alien cadaver in his lab somewhere so they can bring the storyline farther? Unfortunately, this isn’t something that this prequel accomplishes. It is a prequel after all, arguably just an alternate extended version of the upstate New York flashback scene in movie number two.

As for performances, Nyong’o and Quinn deliver the goods. Heck, even Frodo the Cat should get separate billing for being so good. Considering the circumstances, dialogue is not that reliable a storytelling device in this film, which means the actors involved must rely on non-verbal acting, mostly through the eyes, which both actors are really good at. Other than that, all they have to do is run and look terrified all the time, which probably looks easy but perhaps not quite, given how those aliens were probably just sticks with dots on them. Strong performance, check!

It looks like all necessary points have already been made. Anyway, Djimon Hounsou is also here, and it is more than just a cameo. We last saw him, or since this is a prequel we will next see him, as the leader of the island of survivors where one of the kids in Parts 1 and 2 end up. His character dies there, so seeing him here is a bit anticlimactic because we already know what will happen to him anyway. I’m also guessing that there must be Easter eggs presented here, like some characters and items in the first two films. Let’s leave that to the internet pundits for now.

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