New ‘Quiet Place’ Movie Has An Excellent Script And Acting

‘I’ ON CULTURE

I really liked A Quiet Place: Day One. I’m really not a fan of horror movies, even if the monsters are from outer space. I had to be dragged to the first movie in this series and discovered that it was really interesting. Instead of either innocents or fools walking into the dens of the evil one(s), there was a real focus on the people involved and their feelings. This new film goes far beyond that. It is actually a prequel to the original two films (which began on the 89th day after the invasion). We get to see the original attack of the aliens although, perhaps surprisingly, most of the violence is off-screen. Instead, we see the humans and their early struggle to survive.

This new movie not only focuses on human changes but is also, without pushing it on us offensively, a musing about the meaning of life and death. It has a really good script by Michael Sarnoski, who also directed, and uniformly excellent performances, highlighted by an Oscar-worthy one from Lupita Nyong’o.

She plays Samira, a terminally ill cancer patient just waiting for death in a New York hospice, her cat Frodo her only companion. Most of the staff, as well as Sam (what she calls herself), are just waiting for her to give in. But Reuben (Alex Wolff), one of the staff members, pushes her to go to a show in Manhattan. While there, the group sees rockets crashing to earth. Aliens start attacking, and Sam is knocked out.

She wakes up in the theater as things go from bad to worse. Everyone has to be quiet. And survivors kill anyone who is noisy to prevent detection. Aliens find the theater, and Sam takes Frodo north to Harlem, which turns out to be the wrong direction. In the mess, she loses Frodo, but Eric (Joseph Quinn), an English law student, finds Frodo, who leads him back to Sam.

And then the movie shines. What makes this different from most is Sam’s understanding that her life is limited under any circumstance. The discussions about jazz, her father and the future are brilliant, as is the ending, which seemed to shatter the audience.

There are many adjectives that could be used to describe Nyong’o’s performance, and all of them are good. The part is not an easy one to play. Sam is cantankerous, angry, fatalistic and obstinate. She is close to being the exact opposite of the usual movie lead. Yet she copes. She winds up doing well. It was clear everyone in the audience was rooting for her. When she talked of her younger days, loving hearing her musician father play, she seemed to glow.

Quinn provided a great foil for her. He quickly bonded with a woman who was so different, helping her achieve at least one of her “bucket list” of goals, even as the world was collapsing around him. The film is a bit weak on why he became attached to someone like her; she was an obvious victim in the making. The rest of the cast, especially Wolff and Djimon Hounsou, excelled in smaller parts. Even Frodo the cat was very good.

There were a few times the film seemed to wander. Watching Sam walking north to get to Harlem during an apocalypse was strange, although it was filmed well and there were some really exciting and “hold your breath” moments. Much of it was eventually explained by the end.

But what sets this film apart from so many others is that it examines life’s purposes. We already know from the previous films that the aliens are going to dominate; that there may be very few humans left, if any. So what is the reason for living? For fighting back? This film examines those ideas, something that is almost never done these days. Too many horror films are made only to give scary moments.

As I’ve written earlier, I generally hate the genre. But the performances, wow! It is worth seeing. I know some of you may be lusting to see Despicable Me 4, and my grandsons will probably drag me to see it, but this is a really good movie. For me, the best in the series. And Nyong’o — I expect at least an Oscar nomination.

If you like this type of movie, then go.

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