reviewed by Matt Hayden
The Silence is a 2019 American horror film starring Stanley Tucci, Kiernan Shipka, and Miranda Otto. It was adapted from the 2015 novel of the same name by Tim Lebbon. The film depicts a world which is under attack from creatures (discovered under the Appellation trail) who hunt by sound. Shipka plays the main character who becomes deaf late in life which sets the family up for being ready to communicate without speaking. As the family try to settle into the new normal, a cult appears which want to take advantage of Shipkas’ fertility, setting up a potential conflict.
The Silence is a good and enjoyable film. It uses sound to great effect, and by having a deaf main character, it shows the viewer the ability the family has with ASL. As the perspective changes from character to character the sounds played for the audience adjust, demonstrating the importance that sound has to each character and those who don’t have it.
Then the creatures themselves are exquisite. The sheer quantity of them is enough to strike fear into most people (and the way they’re able to pick up on sounds through small fibers above their wings and the nose-like feature). As a whole, there is even some interesting hyena imagery: the pack mentality, and savagery of their killings, with scraps being ripped off the bones of their victims.
The film itself has issues with originality. While the book was released in 2015, similar films to it have released in the last couple of years. A Quiet Place came in 2018 which is nearly identical: a hard-of-hearing child, family. The avoidance of creatures that are blind and trying to hunt through sound. The author even noted how unfortunate and eerie the similarities between the films is, but due to The Silence going with a distributor, resulting in a delayed release date, it did not copy A Quiet Place, with both filming at the same time. But what can set this film apart for viewers is the inclusion of the cult group, as they are the only human threat that is memorable in those films. Similarly, Bird Box is a film that could fit into this category of movie, about how people who have to avoid using their sight instead of needing to avoid make noise. Some have mentioned that The Silence is gorier and has more horror elements than A Quiet Place, which I can agree with. We spend more time with the death of characters and additional use of blood.
While The Silence rethreads old ground for viewers, if you enjoyed A Quiet Place, give this film a watch, but be aware that you already know most of the story.