Weekend film reviews: ‘A Quiet Place: Day One,’ ‘Daddio’

Written by Amy Ta, produced by Jack Ross and Angie Perrin

“A Quiet Place: Day One” stars Lupita Nyong’o, Joseph Quinn, and Alex Wolff. Credit: Youtube.

The latest film releases are A Quiet Place: Day One, Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1, Daddio, and Janet Planet. Weighing in are Amy Nicholson, host of the podcast Unspooled and film reviewer for The New York Times, and William Bibbiani, film critic for The Wrap and co-host of The Critically Acclaimed Network. 

A Quiet Place: Day One

This is the third installment — a prequel — in the horror series about aliens with supersonic hearing. It stars Lupita Nyong’o, Joseph Quinn, and Alex Wolff. 

Nicholson: “I went to this thinking: What else could there possibly be to say in this franchise about aliens who have oversensitive ears, who just show up on Earth and start killing anybody who makes a sound? And I have to say, Michael Sarnoski, who wrote and directed this, he figured out how to make this a pretty compelling story about facing your own certain death. 

The real interesting story twist that he does here is that our lead, Lupita Nyong’o, she's playing … a woman dying of terminal cancer, she's already at the stage where she's living in a hospice. And she and the other residents from her hospice take this field trip to New York on the day of the attack. … The film really becomes about: What do I want to do with the last bit of time that I have on this earth? 

… On top of that, I think that the director does a really good job just nailing the chaos of this attack. … He is very much leaning on Ground Zero [World] Trade Center attack footage, but then … you cannot scream, you cannot ask for help, you cannot say what is going on, you cannot even cough when you're covered in dust.” 

Bibbiani: “If this was your first Quiet Place movie, you could perfectly enjoy this, and probably be interested in watching the others. But the downside is that if you did like the first two, this doesn't actually add much to it. It's a little repetitive, I think, in its overall thriller construct.”

Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1

This three-hour-long movie is part one of a four-part series. The plot is about cowboys warring with Native Americans on the frontier. Kevin Costner directs and stars alongside Sam Worthington, Sienna Miller, and Owen Crowshoe.  

Bibbiani: “Kevin Costner knows how to direct a western. … He is just confidently in his wheelhouse. The locations are gorgeous. He knows how to build characters within this distinct environment. … This is just the start of this sprawling narrative. … There are [characters] who I want to see succeed in their goals. And there are people I want to die so badly. … And I'm curious to see where this journey will take them.”

Nicholson: “It's in a tricky position, though, because it wants to depict the racism of this era. But also, a lot of the racist people are going around using words of today, like calling the Apache people Indigenous. And you're like, ‘I don't think that's how they would talk about it.’ … What I felt at the end of this is: Just the scale of trying to tell a story about the West feels almost as Herculean of an effort as the settlers who made it here in the first place.”


Dakota Johnson plays a taxi cab passenger in New York who tells the driver (Sean Penn) about her poor decisions that led to having an affair. Christy Hall is the director and writer of this drama. 

Nicholson: “This is like a very, very, very small two-character play that's pretty much all entirely inside of this cab. … They're having this big [conversation] about men, and women, and love, and heartbreak, and mistakes. … Where it actually gets smart is … Sean Penn's cabbie [is] saying so much, much, much more crass things … we're like, ‘Oh, I really hope that that is not how men actually think;’ and because we're also going in the backseat with Dakota, where she's texting this boyfriend of hers on the phone, we're seeing everything that she's not telling him either. So it's not quite this movie about perfect openness. … It's a movie about this woman who's not intimidated by this guy.” 

Bibbiani: “There are parts in this movie where I feel like, ‘Oh, is this the part where it turns into a thriller, it turns out he's a bad guy?’ And the movie is steadfastly refusing to go in any conventional genre way, even in terms of romance. And I think that's mostly really good.”

Janet Planet

Zoe Ziegler plays an 11-year-old who spends summer at home with her mom and three strangers. The drama is getting praise for side-stepping some conventions of the coming-of-age genre. 

Bibbiani: “She spends this really sleepy, almost lazy summer with her mom, as her mom is going through a couple of different lovers. Another friend stays with them for a while. And these people just pass in and out of their lives. And this little girl … is really struggling to figure herself out, and so is her mother. This is a very reserved movie. This is not a broadly entertaining, or humorous, or even exciting film.”

Nicholson: “It's an interesting dynamic between this mom and daughter. Because the kid is strange and isolated, and honestly a little manipulative and willing to lie. And the mom … is just no boundaries at all, and she seems willing to bend herself to get along with anybody who wants to spend time with her. 

… You start thinking about: What is it about children, young girls who can be so stubbornly themselves, but over time, they soften, and they lose their personality, and they become a people pleaser, who loses their sense of self? So I spent a lot of this movie dwelling on that question. I felt like this movie followed me around and stole things from my life.”