A Quiet Place: Day One director talks *that* ending: "I wanted it to feel triumphant"

A Quiet Place: Day One
(Image credit: Paramount)

Warning: Major spoilers for A Quiet Place: Day One below!

A Quiet Place: Day One director Michael Sarnoski wanted to invoke some very specific emotions when writing the absolutely devastating ending to the film.

"This ending was pretty early on part of how I imagined this movie playing out. I thought it was important to honor the fact that this is a story about a dying person – and we're not going to change that. We're not going to try and sugarcoat that. But it's about someone who sort of finds agency and find some joy towards the end of her life," Sarnoski tells GamesRadar+. 

Lupita Nyong'o plays Sam, a terminally ill cancer patient who leaves hospice for a day trip to the city with her service cat Frodo. During the trip, ultrasonic monsters descend upon the city and the apocalypse begins – but Sam fights her way through it with Eric (Joseph Quinn) by her side.

In the beginning of the film, Sam is looking forward to leaving hospice and getting a slice of pizza in the city – knowing she won't have much longer to do so. When the monsters touch down on earth, the audience can tell that Sam has immediately made up her mind: While people are running to safety, Sam walks in the opposite direction. 

"I wanted an ending that on paper seems kind of bleak, just like the rest of the movie. In the end, she commits suicide, but I wanted it to feel triumphant and feel like this was her decision. And this was something that she earned over the course of this of this story."

With Eric and Frodo by her side, she gets her slice of pizza, and gets to see the jazz club her father used to take her to one last time. Feeling fulfilled and knowing she's going to die – apocalypse or not – she helps Eric and Frodo board a boat full of survivors and leaves him a beautiful goodbye note.

Sam walks the empty city streets with her headphones in and abruptly pulls them out, making a sound that immediately attracts a monster. The screen then cuts to credits.

"I kind of want people to leave it feeling life-affirmed in a weird way, even though it ends with a death. And I think we've pulled that off. It was a very tricky balance to find, but I think just Lupita did an amazing job with it. I think also, just the journey that we watch her go on with Eric makes you feel like that moment is really earned. She's come to a new level there."

A Quiet Place: Day One hits theaters in the UK on June 27 and the US on June 28. For more, check out our chat with Michael Sarnoski about making a cat one of the movie's main stars or about casting Lupita Nyong'o and Joseph Quinn as the perfect pair.

Lauren Milici
Senior Writer, Tv & Film

Lauren Milici is a Senior Entertainment Writer for GamesRadar+ currently based in the Midwest. She previously reported on breaking news for The Independent's Indy100 and created TV and film listicles for Ranker. Her work has been published in Fandom, Nerdist, Paste Magazine, Vulture, PopSugar, Fangoria, and more.