Thursday 27 June 2024

A Quiet Place: Day One - Exploring the Origins of Silence

A Quiet Place: Day One

By Jon Donnis

When John Krasinski embarked on the search for a director to helm the prequel to his acclaimed A Quiet Place series, he knew it would be a challenging task. The series, renowned for its unique blend of tension, character depth, and spectacular thrills, required a filmmaker who could match its distinct universe. Krasinski's search led him to Michael Sarnoski, who had garnered acclaim for his 2021 film Pig, a tale set in the Oregon wilderness starring Nicolas Cage.

"John had seen Pig and really responded to it," recalls Sarnoski, now director of A Quiet Place: Day One. "He was incredibly generous, giving me the space to bring my vision to the project." Pig had won 37 awards upon its release, praised for its powerful mix of thrills and heart, a skillset Krasinski saw as perfect for continuing the legacy of smart horror that had defined his series.

Krasinski approached Sarnoski with a broad concept: a New York City "Day One" invasion. "John said, 'Here's my world. What's the story you want to tell in that world?'" Sarnoski remembers. The story that emerged was unusually intimate, a direction Krasinski fully supported. "He gave me a lot of freedom, wanting to open up this world to other voices," Sarnoski explains.

A New Perspective on an Apocalyptic World
Sarnoski, a fan of the first two A Quiet Place films, admired how they approached epic events through a personal lens. "I wanted to maintain that. This film focuses on how characters experience the event from a boots-on-the-ground perspective," he says. The core premise of A Quiet Place: Day One is to take the story back to the beginning, but set in the bustling, noisy backdrop of New York City, providing a stark contrast to the remote settings of the previous films.

"The first movies did a great job circling a family, with the creatures as a backdrop to their story. The real soul came from the characters and their relationships," Sarnoski notes. The prequel introduces a new set of characters, maintaining the intimate storytelling amid the chaos. "There's big, crazy stuff happening around the city, but the story focuses on an intimate relationship. As the world ends around us, how do we find moments of peace and connection?"

Characters and Relationships at the Forefront
The film centers on Samira, played by Lupita Nyong'o, and Eric, portrayed by Joseph Quinn. "Samira returns to a city that once meant a lot to her, seeking adventure after being isolated. She meets Eric, and the story explores their evolving relationship as they navigate survival together," Sarnoski describes. Their dynamic is complex, as Eric seeks calm in the chaos, while Samira, unwilling to be his anchor, creates initial friction. "We explore what people need from each other when the world is falling apart."

Building the Origin Story
Sarnoski approached the origin of the deadly creatures with a careful balance, maintaining the mystery while expanding the mythology. "Previous movies did well by not oversharing about the creatures. This film keeps that focus on the characters' perspectives," he says. The film implies the presence of thousands of creatures, attracted to New York's loud environment, portraying the scale of the invasion while preserving a sense of mystery.

Collaboration and Creative Process
Sarnoski's collaboration with Krasinski was marked by creative freedom and mutual respect. "John saw Pig and really responded to it, inviting me to shape the story within his world. He was supportive of the intimate direction I took, balancing chaos, scares, and character honesty," Sarnoski explains. The production, shot entirely in London, recreated New York City through meticulous design, fooling even New Yorkers with its authenticity.

Thrilling Sequences and Inspirations
The film boasts a variety of sequences, each with a unique identity, from breathless horror to full-on action and pure tension. Sarnoski highlights a sequence in a flooded subway tunnel, emphasizing character development amid claustrophobic, creature-infested chaos. The inspiration for such scenes came from films like Children of Men, which successfully blend big stories with intimate perspectives.

Expanding the Quiet Place Universe
Sarnoski delves into the universe's internal rules, expanding the creature mythology without oversaturation. The audience, familiar with the creatures' behaviors, experiences suspense as characters learn these rules in real-time. "It's a fine game of showing exciting things without reiterating the first two films. We maintain the mystery while giving a sense of the scale."

A Quiet Place: Day One explores the initial attack by the creatures, set against the vibrant, chaotic backdrop of New York City. With a focus on intimate storytelling and character relationships, the film promises to satisfy fans while expanding the franchise's universe. As Sarnoski states, "It's about finding moments of peace and connection as the world ends around us." The prequel stands as a testament to the power of character-driven narratives within epic, apocalyptic settings.

A Quiet Place: Day One Out In Cinemas Now