Prequel of popular franchise proves not every whisper is worth hearing

IN cinematic franchises, the phrase “third time is the charm” often carries an optimistic ring. Unfortunately, with A Quiet Place: Day One, the third instalment in the acclaimed series, that charm is distinctly muted.

Directed and written by Michael Sarnoski, with a story conceived alongside John Krasinski, the prequel ambitiously attempts to explore the beginnings of the extraterrestrial invasion in New York City. However, the film stumbles on several fronts, leaving fans yearning for the tension and emotional depth of its predecessors.

$!The premise of the original films are not fully stretched to allow it to expand further.

A sound that does not resonate

The plot centres around Samira, portrayed by Lupita Nyong’o, a terminally ill cancer patient caught in the chaos of an alien invasion. The narrative kicks off with promise but soon falls into a predictable and less-than-thrilling sequence of events. As the protagonist navigates the apocalyptic landscape with her silent cat Frodo, the film’s attempt to blend horror with heartfelt moments results in a lukewarm mix that fails to deliver on either front.

Despite a few genuinely tense scenes, such as the cacophony of an activating backup generator and the frantic scramble during the mass evacuation, the film lacks the sustained suspense that defines the original.

The aliens, while still menacing, no longer evoke the same terror when their every appearance becomes a predictable consequence of noise. The story’s progression feels more like a checklist of genre tropes rather than a gripping tale that unfolds organically.

$!Nyong’o stars as the movie’s main protagonist.

Glimmer in the gloom

One of the few saving graces of A Quiet Place: Day One is its cast of likeable characters. Nyong’o delivers a commendable performance as Samira, imbuing her character with a blend of vulnerability and resilience. Joseph Quinn’s Eric, an English law student with a haunted past, brings a certain charm to the screen and their dynamic offers brief moments of genuine connection amid the chaos.

However, it is Frodo, the cat, who inexplicably steals the show. In a film, in which humans are outshone by a feline companion, it becomes clear that character development takes a backseat. Djimon Hounsou’s return as Henri adds some continuity but his character, like many others, is underutilised and overshadowed by the lacklustre plot.

$!Tense moments are scattered rather too waywardly throught this film.

Silence is not always golden

The primary issue with A Quiet Place: Day One lies in its failure to capitalise on the rich lore established by its predecessors. Instead of deepening the mythology, the film offers a surface-level exploration of the invasion’s onset, lacking the nuanced storytelling that made the original films compelling. The emotional scenes feel forced and the film’s attempts at poignancy often fall flat.

The setting of New York City, initially promising for its potential to showcase urban survival, is not fully exploited. The decision to bomb the bridges and isolate Manhattan could have added a layer of claustrophobic tension but it is barely explored beyond a few fleeting scenes. The subplot involving the military’s struggle against the creatures is similarly underdeveloped, leaving audiences with more questions than answers.

$!Various plot arcs are not fully explored causing it to have a half-baked feel.

Lowering expectations

Ultimately, A Quiet Place: Day One serves as a stark reminder that even promising franchises can falter. While the film features some likable characters and a few memorable moments, it falls short of the suspense and emotional resonance that defined the original series. Viewers are advised to approach this prequel with tempered expectations. Just because it hails from a promising franchise does not mean it will be promising.

For fans hoping to recapture the silent terror of the first films, this instalment may disappoint. However, those willing to overlook its shortcomings might find some enjoyment in its scattered moments of tension and charm.

$!A Quiet Place: Day One is showing in cinemas now.

Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Joseph Quinn, Alex Wolff, Djimon Hounsou, Alfie Todd

Director: Michael Sarnoski