Pop Culture

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
A Quiet Place: Day One

Title: A Quiet Place: Day One

Describe This Movie In One Ghostbusters Quote:
PETER VENKMAN: Listen. You smell something?
Brief Go-Gos Plot Synopsis: Have you seen them? They're eating us /
Ripping thighs, well that's no surprise

Review Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 3.5 Elmer Fudds out of 5.
Tagline: "Hear how it all began."

Better Tagline: "My family would be dead in 30 seconds."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Life is already a day-to-day struggle for Sam (Lupita Nyong'o) whose idea of a successful day is going with her hospice group into the city and getting a slice from her favorite Harlem pizzeria. These plans are foiled when Earth is rudely invaded by monsters who are the extreme version of people who call the cops on their neighbors for watching Top Chef too loudly. Still hellbent on getting her pizza, Sam and "support cat" Frodo are soon joined by Eric (Joshua Quinn), an expat law student suffering from anxiety issues even before the alien invasion.
"Critical" Analysis" The Quiet Place universe is one in which blind alien monsters with hypersensitive hearing have essentially taken over the world. In the first movie, young Regan Abbott -- who also happens to be deaf -- figures out that a high-pitched noise from her cochlear implant affects the monsters. The second movie ends with her broadcasting the sound from a radio station, hopefully helping out the remaining humans.

Now that we're all caught up, we return to the beginning with A Quiet Place: Day One. It's a bit of a cheat, since we already saw a sliver of "Day One" (albeit in flashback) in Part II. Now it's feature length, showing us the invasion from the start and the ensuing rapid collapse of civilization.

Along with what has to the the chillest cat ever to walk the earth.

The greatest trick writer/director Michael Sarnoski (Pig) pulled with this movie was to bait and switch people expecting a standard apocalyptic horror movie into watching a thoughtful (with jump scares) meditation on death and acceptance. As with the previous films, there are extensive stretches of utter silence, and it was very interesting to sit with an audience that went along with the concept.

Day One has a larger canvas than before: New York City ... Chinatown and Harlem, to be specific, the latter playing a key role in Sam's quest to obtain the last slice of a certain pizza. If this doesn't sound quite as harrowing as giving birth in utter silence, you've never tried to get anywhere in NYC without stepping on something noisy.
click to enlarge
"For the love of god, don't criticize Taylor Swift again."
Watching Day One, a couple of questions leap to mind. First: how many of these damn things are there? Whenever anyone cuts a loud fart (it doesn't happen onscreen, but you know thousands gave their lives for flatulence) there's an alien waiting to smear their blood on a wall.

Second: [Seinfeld voice] What's the deal with aliens who can't tolerate water landing on a planet that's 3/4 covered in it? It's like these guys, who can't swim, and the aliens from Signs were all clients of the same shitty travel company.

It's both a bold move and kind of a cop-out to make Sam terminally ill. Her fate is sealed either way, and as fondly as we remember Quinn as Eddie from Stranger Things, his rapport with Sam is actually quite touching, and almost more appropriate to something like Autumn in New York, provided New York was overrun by Demogorgon looking aliens, which only enhances the ST vibe.

Beyond that, there's Sam's cat Frodo. Referred to (perhaps sarcastically) as a "support cat," Frodo is the least cat-like feline you've ever seen: he appears to genuinely care about his master, actively helps Sam and Eric on their journey, and never makes a goddamn sound. If more cats behaved that way, I might actually get one.

All of the Quiet Place movies are well-crafted and pack a punch, and Day One is no exception. In fact, it might be the best one. Krasinski (who co-created the story) and former indie director Sarnoski create characters we care about and want to see survive, which goes completely against my utter lack of enthusiasm for surviving an apocalypse. No more fajitas? Check, please.

A Quiet Place: Day One is in theaters today.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar