THE SILENCE (October 25th)


YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU TAKES PART IN THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE; WATCHING ONE HORROR MOVIE A DAY THROUGHOUT OCTOBER. SOME OF THEM OLD, SOME OF THEM NEW, SOME OF THEM HAVE JUST BEEN ON OUR SHELVES FOR YEARS GATHERING DUST, STILL IN CELLOPHANE...

I'm one of those people who likes to think that he always tries to find the good in something. Actually, that's not true – I'm not a big fan of most people in general. But if I were to visit an animal rehoming centre and was on the lookout for a new dog, I'd most likely pick the one that looked most sorry for itself and dejected. The one that no one else wanted. I'm a bit like that with movies too. If I see a movie is getting pelted then I'll instinctively have an urge to watch it so I can defend it. It rarely happens though as most of the time there's a reason why a film is generally dismissed. I, Frankenstein and VHS Viral are two that I tried to warm to but failed, hard. Nevertheless, I'm not one to be put off so I thought I'd try out another flick that hasn't been getting much love since its release. That film was The Silence.

Part of the failure of The Silence is that it felt mildly derivative as soon as it was announced due to a little film called A Quiet Place, which proved hugely popular upon it's release back in 2018. Based on a really simple concept, the film focused on a family living in a post apocalyptic world where the human population has been all but wiped out by an invasive species. These monsters used sound to hunt their prey so as long as you were quiet and never made a noise, you'd be ok. Turns out that's pretty tricky to maintain for the rest of your existence.

The Silence begins with some explorers discovering a new cave system below the Appalachian mountains and inadvertently releasing a horde of winged bat like creatures that make short (and bloody) work of the people that have accidentally unleashed them. We then switch the affable family man Hugh (Stanley Tucci) and his tribe - including wife played by Miranda Otto and deaf daughter played by Kiernan Shipka. We see the beginning of the end through their eyes as the swarm of bat like monsters start to decimate North America. The military can seemingly do nothing to stop them and people are advised to stay at home and not make a sound. Realising that a bustling city is the worst place to be for rnoise pollution, Tucci and his family begin a trip to a more rural locale but obviously, their trip is not as straightforward as they hoped...

The familiarity between the premise of this and A Quiet Place isn't too much of an issue really. There's quite a lot of mileage you can wring out of the concept of any sound being a mortal threat. It makes for some really great set pieces too, potentially. Closing a car door, walking across gravel, a mobile phone ring tone. All these things can spell the end. The Silence makes a fairly good fist of it for the most part. The opening thirty minutes or so where we see the breakdown of the normal way of life and the invasion of the monsters is competently done, if a bit brisk. The problems come later in the movie...

From a casting perspective, it's a bit of a dream team for yours truly. I've always loved Stanley Tucci and thanks to Chilling Tales of Sabrina, I'm also big fans of Shipka and Otto. They are all fine but the script from the Van Dyke brothers (Chernobyl Diaries) is a bit flimsy and the characters are quite undeveloped. It feels like Shipka should be the real focus and drive of this movie but it never really transpires. Her deafness also feels a little superfluous to the story too as it doesn't add anything other than allow the family to sign to each other. The film is engaging enough but with it's difficult to really care about any of them too much – which is what Krasinski was able to manage in A Quiet Place and partly why The Silence will forever live in its shadow.

There are some effective action set pieces and the tension is well worked at times (kudos for the mobile-phone vest idea too, that kinda rocked). It's engaging without ever being thrilling and trundles on at a leisurely pace. But there are flaws here. One of them is the decision to introduce a threat in the form of a creepy religious group so late in the day. America has been burning for about two weeks and apparently Walking Dead style cults have already formed. It's not a bad concept in of itself but it arrives too late and feels rather undercooked. However the reason that The Silence ultimately fails is the conclusion. Boy, I was expecting another ten to fifteen minutes but instead we are dished up a super rushed final minute that just feels wrong. It's almost as if they ran out of money and had to tie things off on one day of shooting. It's a real mess and devalues everything good that came before it. Shame, because for 70 minutes or so I was thinking 'Oh I think I've found one of these films where I don't understand the criticism'. Turns out, it is maligned for a reason.

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