A Quiet Place: Day One Director Took Unusual Inspiration From Ocean's Eleven [Exclusive]

29June 2024

Want to hear something impressive? "A Quiet Place: Day One," which /Film's review calls the best film in the franchise, is only director Michael Sarnoski's second feature film. His first feature, 2021's "Pig," was among my favorite films of that year, and also made it into /Film's overall top 10 of 2021. When he was hired to direct "A Quiet Place: Day One," it felt like a throwback to the days when Sundance faves like Colin Trevorrow or Jon Watts were plucked from the indie scene and dropped into a much larger canvas, but I was still eager to see what he would do with the movie. The film's marketing campaign was so overbearing, though, that it eventually wore away a lot of my anticipation. Turns out the folks at Paramount knew what they were doing by flooding the zone with those trailers, because the film is off to a great start at the box office; even better, the actual movie ended up being much better than the trailers indicated.

BJ Colangelo conducted an extensive, spoiler-filled interview with Sarnoski about the making of the film that I highly encourage you to read in full, but there was one section from their conversation that I thought was worth highlighting, and it has to do with Steven Soderbergh's classic 2001 remake of "Ocean's Eleven," and how one aspect of that movie loosely factors into Sarnoski's approach to making this horror prequel.

Brad Pitt eating in Ocean's Eleven is part of the reason Sarnoski's movies revolve around food

When we asked Sarnoski why food has played such a central role in both of his feature films so far ("Pig" is an all-time great food movie, and pizza occupies a crucial role in "A Quiet Place: Day One"), the writer/director explained:

"As a Midwestern boy, I love some good food. I mean, I think it's related to also why I love having animals in movies. I think there's something that I just find so relatable about when you point a camera at an animal or when you point a camera at an actor eating food, on a certain level, you know that you can't be lying. Like, the audience knows that's an animal and they're going to do what animals do. And we never used, like, a CG cat in this movie for that reason — you always want to feel like there's a reality to that which can't be faked. 

It's the same with watching people eat. There's something that, I remember, even as a kid, I think it was in the 'Ocean's Eleven' movie, when you're watching Brad Pitt just eat tons of food the whole time, and you're just like, 'What is this feeling?' There's just something that you can't — that's just real. He's just eating a hamburger. You're always trying to sell reality in movies, but something about food and animals, you just don't second-guess it because there's something so fundamental about that."

Day One" isn't a heist movie, and it doesn't have the same breezy sense of effortless cool that Soderbergh's film captured, but "Ocean's Eleven" did help Sarnoski realize that, in a world now dominated by computer graphics and artificial intelligence and Photoshop and forgeries of all kinds, there are only a few things left that can't be convincingly faked, and one of them is eating.

We spoke more about "A Quiet Place: Day One" on today's episode of the /Film Daily podcast, which you can listen to below:

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