A Quiet Place: Day One First Reviews: A Tense, Surprisingly Tender Thriller Anchored by Fantastic Performances (2024)

Did we need a prequel/spinoff of A Quiet Place following all new characters through the silence-focused alien-invasion apocalypse? Well, you could just as easily ask whether or not we need any original movies in the first place. Fortunately, according to the first reviews of A Quiet Place: Day One, the third installment of the franchise justifies its existence with a thrilling trip through a decimated Manhattan. It may not be as scary as the first two movies, but for some, that’s not a bad thing. It also may not be as epic as expected for this kind of film. But critics mostly agree that it works as another character drama from Pig writer-director Michael Sarnoski and particularly thanks to the performances by leads Lupita Nyong’o, Joseph Quinn, and a cat named Frodo.

Here’s what critics are saying about A Quiet Place: Day One:

Is this a worthy addition to the franchise?

A Quiet Place: Day One is another excellent installment in the franchise, delivering the tense set pieces you’d expect, but also with an emotional core that you might not.
Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

This is a prequel done right and a real pleasant surprise.
Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

This prequel resonates more deeply and thoughtfully than its predecessor – and far more than the third installment of a franchise has any right to.
Aisha Harris, NPR

It is my favorite movie of the three so far. I found it breathtaking.
Rachel Leishman, The Mary Sue

Fans of the first A Quiet Place who are expecting another breathlessly tense sci-fi horror film, are likely to be disappointed by a blockbuster as reflective and, well, quiet as this. Day One bucks the expectations for what a Quiet Place movie, and really a blockbuster film, should be, and instead delivers something much more moving and poignant.
Hoai-Tran Bui, Inverse

It’s not often we get a post-apocalyptic saga that remains so personal, so in touch with human loss as something not just forgotten in the next jump scare but given room to linger, an aspect that survives the shift away from parents protecting their children.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

A Quiet Place: Day One can’t boast the freshness of concept of the first film, but, in pure emotional payoff, it’s the most satisfying of the series.
Clarisse Loughrey, Independent

A Quiet Place: Day One First Reviews: A Tense, Surprisingly Tender Thriller Anchored by Fantastic Performances (1)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

What makes it stand on its own?

A Quiet Place: Day One transforms into a truly singular blockbuster movie that sheds the immersive spectacle of the first movie in favor of something more tender and wistful.
Hoai-Tran Bui, Inverse

While John Krasinski’s two previous Quiet Place films were family affairs, Sarnoski’s entry into the series is more interested in found family.
Kate Erbland, IndieWire

Sarnoski has done a laudable job, cooking up a spinoff that adheres to the rules of the first two movies by staying focused on the smallest group possible of core characters while spreading the fear factor and suspense across a much larger canvas.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

It’s more of a footnote than a bold new chapter in the series, but this prequel’s relative smallness has its advantages.
Tim Grierson, Screen International

A Quiet Place: Day One feels more like an ambitious indie than a summer studio movie, and its downbeat tone leaves an unexpectedly glum comedown.
Damon Wise, Deadline Hollywood Daily

A Quiet Place: Day One First Reviews: A Tense, Surprisingly Tender Thriller Anchored by Fantastic Performances (2)

(Photo by Gareth Gatrell/©Paramount Pictures)

Is it still scary?

The less we see of the aliens, the better, and Sarnoski leans heavily on the abject fear his characters (and audience) feel once someone makes just a hair too much noise, knowing exactly what’s coming next.
Kate Erbland, IndieWire

It avoids the trap of over-explaining anything, making the terror here arguably even more primal than the previous films.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

What the film does well though is deliver a precisely balanced combination of jump scares, intense situations and confrontations with truly horrible creatures. It’s an effectively scary story, and it’s through the silence of the audience that you can measure this film’s success.
John Kirk, Original Cin

It’s not scary anymore, but it’s stressful in the way that makes you dig your nails into your palm.
Clarisse Loughrey, Independent

In an attempt to build moments of tension and induce scares, the pressure cooker feeling of the deafening silence being broken feels as if it isn’t stretched to its possible limit. That being said, for someone whose second feature is a bonanza of horror-action set pieces, Sarnoski does a sound job.
Giovanni Lago, Next Best Picture

Sarnoski doesn’t have quite the same handle on the kind of immersive action that Krasinski displayed in the first two Quiet Place movies, and it shows: the jumpscares are mostly by-the-book, and the film’s most tense moments are nothing we haven’t seen in horror before.
Hoai-Tran Bui, Inverse

While it’s designed to be the Aliens to the Alien of the other films, this one doesn’t thrill quite as much as it intends to.
Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

Call me macabre, but I expected to see a lot more carnage than Sarnoski’s dismayingly sappy spinoff provides.
Peter Debruge, Variety

A Quiet Place: Day One First Reviews: A Tense, Surprisingly Tender Thriller Anchored by Fantastic Performances (3)

(Photo by Gareth Gatrell/©Paramount Pictures)

How is the change of scenery?

Seeing New York swarming with vicious monsters — scrambling over buildings and leaving giant gashes in their walls, while the streets are lined with burning car wrecks and destroyed storefronts — makes a big impression…production designer Simon Bowles and DP Pat Scola take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by New York.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

The bustle of the city is terrifying because every single noise could end up taking someone from the “city of dreams.” Still, director and writer Michael Sarnoski didn’t ruin what makes this city special. It still feels warm and busy and full of life as people are dying constantly around Eric and Sam.
Rachel Leishman, The Mary Sue

It evokes some of the iconography from 9/11. This isn’t uncharted ground — War of the Worlds and Cloverfield have this pretty well covered… but it’s a rich vein for a good filmmaker to tap into. And Sarnoski does this in ways that feel earned, not exploitative.
Patrick Cremona, Radio Times

As far as the action goes, there are times where Sarnoski uses the distinctive geography of New York City well – most notably a killer sequence that sees our protagonists chased into the subway system.
Jordan Hoffman, Entertainment Weekly

There’s nothing to these set pieces we haven’t seen in the previous two movies, meaning it can feel overly familiar at times, but they’re so precisely honed that you’ll find yourself holding your breath all the same.
Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

A Quiet Place: Day One First Reviews: A Tense, Surprisingly Tender Thriller Anchored by Fantastic Performances (4)

(Photo by Gareth Gatrell/©Paramount Pictures)

What about Michael Sarnoski as director?

Michael Sarnoski was the perfect fit for this movie.
Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Michael Sarnoski blew me away with Pig and here, he manages to show that he potentially can do just about anything.
Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

The filmmaker manages to bring much of his sensibility and overall texture to the series… Much of it is thanks to Sarnoski’s ability to pull deep emotionality out of his stars and audience almost immediately.
Kate Erbland, IndieWire

Sarnoski is working on an auteur wavelength. He often lets the momentum stagnate just enough so the viewer can truly take in the staggering annihilation of a city now in ruins, full of death, and inherent quiet beauty.
Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist

Sarnoski’s strengths as a filmmaker play better into the film’s more intimate moments compared to the larger action-oriented spectacle.
Giovanni Lago, Next Best Picture

A Quiet Place: Day One First Reviews: A Tense, Surprisingly Tender Thriller Anchored by Fantastic Performances (5)

(Photo by Gareth Gatrell/©Paramount Pictures)

How ist Lupita Nyong’o’s performance?

Nyong’o carries the movie on very capable shoulders. Never under-selling the crippling terror that rules Samira’s every move, the actor conveys the conflict between the character’s bitterness and her humanity, remaining tenacious and decisive even when her body starts seriously failing her. She keeps you glued throughout.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Nyong’o commands the screen, every emotion conveyed by her facial expressions. Samira’s development across the movie might be conventional – stoic loner to trusting friend – but Nyong’o makes it feel fresh and earned.
Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Nyong’o’s work in Jordan Peele’s doppelganger horror Us felt leagues apart from anything we could casually term “scream queen.” She returns to that same territory here, concentrating all the primal terror of a scream into a single tear rolling down her cheek.
Clarisse Loughrey, Independent

A Quiet Place: Day One may feasibly do what Jordan Peele’s Us so unfairly didn’t, and if it does carry her through to awards season, it will finally prove that the old saw about genre movies and the Academy is finally a thing of the past.
Damon Wise, Deadline Hollywood Daily

Not once does it get old watching Nyong’o dive into her bag of tricks, especially for horror films. Nyong’o continues to elicit some of the most fear-induced expressions (while flexing that one tear-drop magic), giving audiences an unlikely lead that leaves a mark.
Giovanni Lago, Next Best Picture

Quite simply: Nyong’o elevates the franchise.
Aisha Harris, NPR

A Quiet Place: Day One First Reviews: A Tense, Surprisingly Tender Thriller Anchored by Fantastic Performances (6)

(Photo by Gareth Gatrell/©Paramount Pictures)

And Joseph Quinn?

Quinn is enormously moving.
Caryn James, BBC.com

Joseph Quinn [is] wonderfully vulnerable.
Hoai-Tran Bui, Inverse

The British actor manages the feat of delivering an overstated performance that still somehow feels understated… With some actors, an overly emotional performance inspires eye rolls. Quinn makes you want to give him a hug.
William Mullally, The National

He delivers a far more sweet-natured performance than the emboldened personality that everyone came to know him from in Stranger Things.
Giovanni Lago, Next Best Picture

He shows the benefits of casting a face we don’t already know from a string of movies. His sensitivity is so acute, and his big brown eyes so brimming with feeling that Eric’s resourcefulness and steadily summoned bravery almost catch us off guard.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

A Quiet Place: Day One First Reviews: A Tense, Surprisingly Tender Thriller Anchored by Fantastic Performances (7)

(Photo by Gareth Gatrell/©Paramount Pictures)

What about the two of them together?

The actors’ chemistry yields deeply affecting impact in their tender final scenes, rendered more powerful by their wordlessness.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Samira and Eric’s friendship also brings a deeper emotional aspect compared to the previous two movies. If you thought Lee singing “I love you” to Regan in the first movie was a lot, wait until you get to a beautiful sequence in a bar between Samira and Eric. You’ll cry over pizza.
Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Nyong’o and Quinn have a good sense of camaraderie, with them realistically heroic as the film goes on, and willing to sacrifice their well-being for the other.
Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Network

A Quiet Place: Day One First Reviews: A Tense, Surprisingly Tender Thriller Anchored by Fantastic Performances (8)

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

Any other standouts?

The other star is Frodo, a screen cat for the ages to rank with Ulysses from Inside Llewyn Davis or Jonesy from Alien, played by two chonky black-and-white felines named Nico and Schnitzel. He has the gentle nature and cuddliness of a service cat but also the badass curiosity to explore precarious situations and feed his humans’ anxieties.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

The film’s best character [is] a pet cat who is the best on-screen feline since Ulysses in 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis.
William Mullally, The National

Nyong’o and Quinn are superb, but they can’t compete with an adorable cat who clearly does not give a damn that he’s in an apocalypse.
Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

It has one of the greatest pets ever in a film.
Giovanni Lago, Next Best Picture

A Quiet Place: Day One First Reviews: A Tense, Surprisingly Tender Thriller Anchored by Fantastic Performances (9)

(Photo by Gareth Gatrell/©Paramount Pictures)

Will it leave us wanting more Quiet Place movies?

If this is how the franchise is going to be treated going forward, I think there’s potential to continue on with more installments. Either way, the trilogy we have now is among the better ones in recent memory.
Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

It has to be said that A Quiet Place has turned out to be a franchise with better legs than any of us thought, thanks to the smart people behind it and the top-notch talent on the screen. While it’s the least of the series, it’s still quite good, and it feels like a franchise that could sustain another movie or two.
Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Network

While this is a solid entry in this franchise, the whole appeal of A Quiet Place (which sometimes can be quite gimmicky) and its implementation of silence feels like it will run its course sooner rather than later.
Giovanni Lago, Next Best Picture

A Quiet Place: Day One First Reviews: A Tense, Surprisingly Tender Thriller Anchored by Fantastic Performances (10) 87% A Quiet Place: Day One (2024) opens in theaters on June 28, 2024.

Thumbnail image by ©Paramount Pictures
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A Quiet Place: Day One First Reviews: A Tense, Surprisingly Tender Thriller Anchored by Fantastic Performances (2024)

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