A Quiet Place: Day One's Most Confusing Scene Demands A Deeper Look

29June 2024

This article contains spoilers for "A Quiet Place: Day One."

To put it mildly, the "A Quiet Place" series is not best known for its world-building. The ingenious premise of the original screenplay by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (revised into the 2018 crackerjack setpiece machine co-written and directed by John Krasinski) works best when less detail is put into it: otherworldly monsters are roaming about, and if you make a sound loud enough to break the silence, they will track you and kill you instantly. Simple!

Krasinski's film made sure to do the bare minimum when explaining these extraterrestrial invaders, resulting in the (now somewhat infamous) dry-erase board of facts and speculation maintained by Krasinski's simple farmer and patriarch, Lee Abbott. Even though 2021's "A Quiet Place Part II" expanded the post-apocalypse world and characters, there was really only one new big piece of information given about the creatures, the idea that they fear water due to not being able to navigate within it.

After "Part II" ended with the Abbott children having discovered a way to use the creatures' hyper-sensitive aural skills against them, one couldn't help but wonder where the story would go next. It turns out that there's still fertile territory in the past, for although "Part II" shows what the creatures' invasion looked like in the Abbotts' hometown, this year's "A Quiet Place: Day One" looks at how crazy things got in New York City during that fateful day. Even though writer/director Michael Sarnoski keeps the film's focus firmly on the human characters, he finds a few moments to reveal new things about the creatures, with one confusing scene, in particular, being so subtle that you may miss its clever insidiousness on a first watch.

A Quiet Place: Day One has an Aliens moment?

 

In "Day One," Sam (Lupita Nyong'o), a former poet and terminal cancer patient, happens to meet up with Eric (Joseph Quinn), a young law school student suffering from severe panic attacks following the violent and deadly arrival of the creatures into New York City. The two bond quickly through survival and hardship, and at one point take refuge inside a still (mostly) intact church. Seeing that Sam is in desperate need of medication, Eric ventures out into the city alone to try and find some.

Although he's successful, he discovers that Sam's cat, Frodo, has followed him on his quest, and has scurried away and gotten stuck inside the dangerous-looking ruins of a skyscraper. Turns out that this area is more dangerous than either Frodo or Eric first figured: it's filled with at least a dozen of the creatures, all of whom seem to be feasting on these egg-like sacs they've clearly had a hand in making.

While the main focus of the sequence is Eric saving Frodo and getting the hell out of there alive, the creatures' behavior is curious. Especially given how much the scene is reminiscent of James Cameron's "Aliens," where Sigourney Weaver's Ripley discovers that the Xenomorphs have a queen who lays the eggs that start their life cycle. Initially, it seems that Eric has made a similar discovery about the "Quiet Place" creatures, but the beasties chowing down on these egg-things dispels that assumption. It all begs the question: just what in the protein snack is going on here?

A Quiet Place: Day One's creatures make their own lunch

Fortunately, we here at /Film can provide you with an answer. During BJ Colangelo's exclusive chat with Sarnoski, the filmmaker explained how even though there was not necessarily a mandate for him to add new elements to the lore of the creatures, he wanted to try and satisfy his imagination while not making the creatures the movie's focus.

Understanding that the core of the scene was Eric's rescue of Frodo, Sarnoski elected to not underline exactly what the creatures were up to during that moment, instead trusting that either eagle-eyed first-timers or people rewatching the film would discover it. As Sarnoski explained, this scene actually answers a question about the creatures which many audience members assumed had already been answered:

"[...] You can see all these sort of pools of this sort of pink, glassy liquid, and if you look closely, you can see that there's bodies in those pools. And the idea is that in the other movies, you kind of get that the creatures take people, and they never really say what they're doing with them. And I think everyone's just like, 'Oh, they're eating the people or something.' But I like the idea that the creatures are kind of leafcutter ants that are sort of farming, using the organic material of people to grow what is their food source, which is these kind of weird melon-y egg, mushroom things that they sort of feed the little ones with."

Turns out the creatures weren't pulling an "Aliens," but were actually taking a cue from the director's cut of Ridley Scott's "Alien" (which sees the Xeno mutate a victim into an egg) mashed up with the farmer protagonists of the first "A Quiet Place."

Day One brings the Quiet Place humans and aliens closer together

The aspect of the creatures using humans to grow their own food, and how it ties into the series as a whole, was the real point of including this new bit of lore, as Sarnoski clarified:

"So it just kind of is hinting at, at the end of the day, these are farmers and they have a little bit of a family dynamic to them, which I thought I liked that idea, especially coming off the first 'Quiet Place' that's about a rural farming family."

While this scene is only one highlight in a film full of great moments and performances, it may be the single best scene to illustrate why Sarnoski was the perfect person to take the baton of the franchise from Krasinski. In essence, it demonstrates that Sarnoski more than honors the "Quiet Place" tradition of world-building in the margins of the film, making this franchise stand in stark contrast to so many genre series that deliver information to the audience through info-dump monologues, on-screen graphics and the like.

"A Quiet Place" has been about the characters and their immediate experiences from the start, meaning that we the audience have to piece together what we can in the same way the characters do, and what they don't know, we don't know. In other words, this lore confusion is a feature, not a bug, and it's a storytelling device that allows for discoveries like this lunch scene, a moment that is made that much more intriguing and chilling than if someone had blurted out an explanation on camera. Chew on this: "A Quiet Place" is a special franchise, and "Day One" may be its best entry.

"A Quiet Place: Day One" is in theaters now.

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