How Michael Sarnoski Brought ‘Pig’ Influence to ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’

Every year, several films come out of the woodwork to challenge for industry awards and year-end recognition, and in 2021, Michael Sarnoski’s ‘Pig’ was perhaps the ultimate example of this trajectory. The Neon-released pic about Nicolas Cage’s reclusive truffle forager subverted the past decade’s uptick of revenge films, ending in an empathetic gesture and emotional appeal rather than a bang. This aching drama reminded me that Cage is still a force to be reckoned with, making Sarnoski, in turn, a filmmaker to watch and meet with over bottled water.

One person who certainly kept tabs on the situation was John Krasinski, the co-mastermind of the ‘A Quiet Place’ franchise. He eventually invited the Wisconsin native to bring his ‘Pig’ sensibility to ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ — a prequel depicting how the alien invasion initially played out in New York City. The character of Sam — played beautifully by Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o — is a terminally ill poet in hospice care. During a group outing to a marionette show in Lower Manhattan, Sam and her fittingly named cat, Frodo, encounter the arrival of the franchise’s sound-hunting extraterrestrials (Death Angels) by way of a meteor shower.

Also Read: ‘A Quiet Place’ Video Game is in the Works

Michael Sarnoski Quiet Place
Image Courtesy: The Hollywood Reporter

Sam and Frodo survive the introductory assault, but they soon leave their hospice group behind for a more personal journey. That’s when they cross paths with Joseph Quinn’s Eric, a young British law student who simply doesn’t want to be alone at the end of the world. Eric, in time, learns about Sam’s dying wish, and similar to what Amir (Alex Wolff) did for Rob (Cage) in ‘Pig’, he helps her and Frodo revisit their old stomping grounds for the sake of a nostalgic meal.

The unexpected relationship of Sam and Eric is meant to parallel Rob and Amir in ‘Pig’, but the presence of the scene-stealing cat was not intended to hark back to ‘Pig’s’ beloved truffle pig. Before being stolen, the title character was Rob’s one-and-only companion after the death of his wife, the abandonment of his restaurant, and his self-imposed exile to the Oregon wilderness. Sarnoski explains that he didn’t plan on having another animal companion in his next project.

“​​I loved working with that pig. It was a beautiful experience, but I was very much like, ‘I’m going to take a break from animals for a while,’” Sarnoski says. “There was just something about the image of a sick woman walking with her cat through a desolate, destroyed New York City. It just evolved naturally out of her character, and then I reluctantly had to be like, ‘Well, darn. I guess I am going to have a cat in every scene of this movie.’ But it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, [Krasinski] wants the ‘Pig’ touch. That means I’ll find a little animal friend.’”

Ultimately, the influence of ‘Pig’ on ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ goes beyond a mere animal companion. Sarnoski’s approach brings a deeply personal and emotional depth to the characters, similar to what he achieved in ‘Pig’. This integration of empathy and introspection ensures that ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ will resonate with audiences on a profound level, much like ‘Pig’ did.

-Sushmita Sarkar