Monday, July 22, 2024

“A Quiet Place” Prequel is a Worthy Successor

Lupita Nyong’o as “Samira” in A Quiet Place: Day One from Paramount Pictures.

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Joseph Quinn, Alex Wolff, and Djimon Hounsou

Who says a big-budget horror film can’t have a Black woman as the lead? Well, I’m here to tell you they can, as seen in A Quiet Place: Day One. This marks Lupita’s second time leading in a horror film, following her role in the highly successful and critically acclaimed Us by Jordan Peele. I walked into the screening without expectations and didn’t fully understand the film’s premise beyond it being a prequel in the A Quiet Place franchise. However, I emerged thoroughly impressed with a prediction that it would be one of 2024’s top-selling summer films.

The film centers on Sam (Lupita Nyong’o), a melancholy woman battling cancer. She’s living day to day resigned to her unfortunate fate when a sudden alien invasion devastates the city. Faced with monstrous blind creatures that hunt by sound, Sam must summon a newfound determination to survive. Alongside her loyal cat, Frodo, and Eric (Alex Quinn), a hopeful law student from the UK, Sam navigates a perilous landscape, where silence is key to survival. As they evade relentless aliens and uncover their own strengths, Sam discovers a resilience she never knew she possessed, forging bonds of survival and hope amidst the chaos of an apocalyptic world.

Djimon Hounsou as “Henri” and Lupita Nyong’o as “Samira” in A Quiet Place: Day One from Paramount Pictures.

Lupita Nyong’o was phenomenal as Samira. She charms with her humor initially and showcases her full talent as an actor throughout the rest of the film. She remains silent for most of it, using gestures and her eyes to communicate with others while evading this horrific threat. There’s something about her eyes that’s just so captivating. She conveys so much without speaking and emotes in a way that clearly communicates whether she’s in pain, scared, or even a little excited.

The emotional moments she experiences in this film are impactful. I felt a strong connection to the character and became deeply invested, especially when her backstory and motivations were revealed. Nyong’o has proven time and again that she can carry any genre of horror film. It’s no small feat to express such a wide range of emotions in a terrifying film relying solely on facial expressions; here, we witness her scared, laughing, and even feeling sadness.

Considering that she had to undergo cat therapy (yes, it’s a real thing) due to her fear of cats, Nyong’o and the cat displayed great chemistry. The cat was actually a humorous aspect of the film; it moved with stealth and grace and showed no fear of the aliens whatsoever—it didn’t hiss, just stared at them like they were crazy. It provided a comfortable balance between suspense and light-heartedness.

Lupita Nyong’o as “Samira” in A Quiet Place: Day One from Paramount Pictures.

Similar to Nyong’o’s masterful performance, Joseph Quinn (who portrays Eric) excels in the film’s silent moments. His expressive eyes and subtle gestures effectively convey a range of emotions—fear, determination, and an unwavering will to survive. From the movie’s introduction, I felt an instant connection with Eric, viewing him as a strong and reliable ally for Sam. The film throws the audience a curveball with his side mission involving Frodo the cat, a sequence that had me both terrified and desperately hoping for his success.

Quinn and Nyong’o share palpable on-screen chemistry. Witnessing how these two very different individuals, bound by only their will to survive, navigate the ever-present threat kept me fully invested. 

Hounsou doesn’t have much screen time in the film, but he makes the most of his role as Henri, especially during a memorable scene where he has to take extremes to protect his family. His intense protective demeanor made me understand why he became the leader of the island colony in A Quiet Place II. Let’s hope one day he can get another shot at a leading role. He is undoubtedly a powerful and commanding enough actor if given the right story and character. 

I saw the film in IMAX. It felt so immersive that I was trying to unwrap a piece of candy quietly as to not trigger a sudden attack on a theater full of movie-goers. As the aliens trampled countless people, crushed cars, and devastated the environment around them, you could feel every bit of it, especially when they crawled down from the buildings in droves. These scenes were terrifying due to the camera angle from the perspective of the victims looking up and seeing these “death angels” scurrying down to kill them.

Djimon Hounsou as “Henri”, Lupita Nyong’o as “Samira” and Alex Wolff as “Reuben” in A Quiet Place: Day One from Paramount Pictures.

The visual effects and attention to detail made the aliens feel real. I could see various textures in the aliens’ anatomy, and they blended seamlessly with the surrounding environment. Nothing seemed out of place, making it believable that these creatures truly existed in this place and time.

The film fires on all cylinders with set design, acting, costumes, and visual effects. However, I thought a few of the emotional moments lingered a bit longer than necessary. There are also some slow moments that might bore viewers, but they are punctuated by edge-of-your-seat action sequences. Overall, the film deserves a 8/10 in my book and should draw a good turnout. Check it out in theaters June 28!

Dapper Dr Feel

Felipe Patterson aka Dapper Dr. Feel, #BlackLoveConvo & Entertainment | @fdapperdr Dapper Dr. Feel is a Entertainment journalist and member of the Critics Choice Association and African American Film Association.

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