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Review: John Leonetti’s “The Silence”

I love bad, digitally created creature features. (come back to me, SyFy). However, in the same way that I can only watch so many movies about multi-headed sharks or destructive tornadoes, I can only watch so many movies with the “don’t make noise” plot before I’m bored. That’s why The Silence, based on Tim Lebbon’s 2015 novel of the same name, comes off as beating a dead horse with a stick. We had The Happening. We had A Quiet Place. We had Bird Box. And now we have The Silence. I get it, nature and/or invading predators will kill us one day. Can we move on, please? I think you know where my review is going based on this opening sentiment, so let me move things along. Written by Carey and Shane Van Dyke (Chernobyl Diaries, The Sacred), The Silence sees America under attack after a drilling team inadvertently unleashes a species of prehistoric bat-like creatures from an underground cave system. They spawn incredibly quickly, they’re beyond vicious, and they attack purely based on sound/noise. The Silence follows a small family – dad, mom, daughter, son, grandmother and dog – as they leave the noisy city behind to seek shelter in a more secluded environment in hopes of outlasting the carnage until a solution is conducted. Of course, along the way the family is tested by the bat-like creatures, their own problems and nerves, and a religious cult who have a Walking Dead Whisperer aesthetic. Directed by John R. Leonetti (Annabelle, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation) and released by Netflix in Early April 2010, The Silence Stars Stanley Tucci (Captain America, Hunger Games), Kiernan Shipka (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings), Kate Trotter (Covert Affairs, Lost Girl), John Corbett (United States of Tara), Kyle Breitkopf (Being Human), Dempsey Bryk (Mary Kills People) and Bill MacLellan (Defiance).

The daughter, played by Kiernan Shipka, is deaf. I’m not sure how debilitating her disability is because she can still talk as if she could hear her whole life, but her being deaf became a mute point in the movie. Besides being able to use sign language to communicate without the vesps (the name they give to the bat-like creatures) hearing them, having a deaf daughter isn’t as big of an emotional draw or counter-measure as the film would like you to believe. Because, ya know, the family can still whisper, write it down on paper, read lips or even text. The daughter becomes more of a centerpiece later on in the movie when the cult has some rape and re-spawn ideas for her, but really, I found myself connecting with the dog and the grandmother more than anyone else. Plus, the daughter has a love interest in the movie, a boy that she walked home with from school on two separate occasions. This, somehow, is enough for their love story to overtake the end of the world scenario and the fact that her family is being murdered by prehistoric monsters, and the daughter spends the majority of the movie pining after the boy and facetiming with him. Right… And since we’ve seen this plot at least four times before, The Silence is another movie that becomes incredibly frustrating because characters get killed or attacked because of their own dimwitted decision making skills and not because of the predatory creatures. Let’s take the dog with us. Let’s shoot guns. Let’s forget to lock the gate over and over again. Let’s forget our asthma medication. Let’s not kill the creepy cult guy who’s clearly going to follow us home. While a good number of small and supporting cast members are pecked to death or torn to pieces and eaten, it’s just not enough to keep me from championing this movie. It all comes off completely unnecessary.

And that’s what’s sad about The Silence. It was produced by Robert Kulzer (Resident Evil, Wrong Turn), Scott Lambert, Alexandra Milchan, Martin Salgo and executive producer Martin Moszkowicz. It features cinematography by Michael Galbraith (IT) and editing by Michele Conroy (Split). Honestly, look at the talent pool here, folks. From the writers and director to the cast to the supporting crew, everyone involved with this motion picture is extremely capable, more than professional and they come with big name buzz. It seems like such a shame, such a waste of time that their talents were wasted on a knock-off kind of movie like this, that the media and public have mostly turned their back on as far as I can tell. But can you really blame them? The public, I mean. As I’ve stated several times in this review already, we’ve seen this movie a bunch of times before. As for the actors, it was probably just a check movie, where they showed up for the check and moved on. But, why couldn’t the cast and crew have adapted another Tim Lebbon book, or come up with something original to entertain the masses? Sure, The Silence looks great – eh, the CGI is debatable – and the cast is amazing, but the film is just… stupid. I’m happy that I watched it at my sister-in-law’s house because I would have been pissed if I actually spent money buying it on Blu-ray or DVD. Lots of beautiful locations, stunning editing, moments with slight suspense and the addition of the creature’s eggs, which we haven’t seen before in a film like this yet, and The Silence is still an unnecessary waste of Netflix’s money, and I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone. I’d rather watch Mega Python vs. Gateroid for sheer, campy audacity alone.

Final Score: 4.5 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)