“I’m gonna shoot you if you don’t go, that’s what I’m gonna do.”
The Silence comes from the same artery that spurted A Quiet Place and Bird Box: sensual thrillers. It’s the new trend in Hollywood and the results speak for themselves. John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place was an impressive passion project. Bird Box went viral and deservedly so.
The Silence has similar content in play. Listen close, speak softly and don’t make a sound. Creatures are stirring in the house. Don’t wake them or they’ll be the last thing you’ll see.
The trailer Netflix is putting out for its new original pulled me in. They also sent an email and kindly notification to encourage me. How generous of them.
The Silence lacks the vitriol of the former two and it’s evident early on.
It’s too clean, first off. I’m not on the corner promoting more savagery in film but this is not a film that’s going to shock us audibly. It needs to throw its punches visually and The Silence seems reluctant to do that. This may be due to its source material, as its target demographic appears to be adolescent audiences. Narrative flows are rather basic here, relationships awfully simple to understand and complex issues put plainly, which closes a lot of doors for creative expression. Plans go quite smoothly considering the chaos. Scenes which begin brewing tension end abruptly rather than strung out.
When you hit a chord, you often like to let it ring, depending on the composition of course. You want to wave the scene around like you’re carrying a torch. Let it burn and sizzle. Hear it crackle and consume.
I watched No Country For Old Men recently, a Best Picture winner I hope to add sooner rather than later to my Best Picture Journey, another series I’m trying to resuscitate. To give you, dear reader, an illustration of what I’m talking about, take a few minutes and devour this.
What goes on in this scene? Not that much actually. A man buys a candy bar and gas but there’s a lot more to the sequence, isn’t there? Javier Bardem’s character is brutally unnerving and you get a clear, concise thought that the man is capable of sinister acts. All you can do is watch as the storekeeper falls further and further into the pit. There’s a long shot of a candy wrapper slowly unraveling, Javier Bardem cracking nuts mid dialogue. It’s pinching, applying pressure in such a subtle way. It’s tantalizing.
This scene could have been nothing. It could have been cut out of the script entirely but instead, it was studied, tested and refined. That’s what creators do.
So when early in your story, you’ve got your group in a holdup, demonstrating the definition of boundaries we talked about in my last review and you cut that scene abruptly without much expressed, forgive me if I second guess the level of editing done here. Allow me some respite if I question a rather comatose first act. Grant me reprieve if I’m puzzled by a surprising lack of emotion.
Blunt knives do not cut nor do they penetrate without a significant amount of force. Ones not forged preciously are fragile, prone to brittleness. Metal not tempered becomes thin.
Thrillers require a certain level of opacity. No one feels challenged by a translucent wall. I’d argue we’d prefer a mirror to a window. Windows can only show what’s on the other side. They don’t provide optics or inquiry. They don’t obscure or obfuscate. They are a shallow obstacle to the other side and trivial barriers don’t pair well with mystique.
Hollow writing dampens The Silence’s gravitational pull. It doesn’t belay audiences, allowing a float through a clear orbit. An asteroid field, a few moons or a diorama would have been far more interesting. I think they took their title too literally.
Acting turns are a constant struggle. Stanley Tucci is doing what he can but none of these characters are flossed or flexed. Some lines come with the additional package of painful delivery. Reshoots were in order. I understand our director made a career out of directing an immobile object but that won’t do here.
Cinematographers turned directors succeed and sometimes they don’t but something I find quite perplexing, and I know I’ve mentioned it a few times during my career here, is their sudden memory loss regarding their previous spouse. When the picturemen direct, they forget about the cinematography or are so enamoured with their new toy they forget about their previous responsibilities.
The third act grants us an antagonist worthy of our time but as the film has done during most of its run time, it lets its fresh fruit spoil.
Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.
80-89 It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Law Abiding Citizen, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, The Conjuring, Sinister)
50-59 This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Fast and the Furious, Brooklyn’s Finest, Death Race, Wind River, Tommy Boy)
40-49 This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Doom, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Power Rangers, Underworld: Evolution)
30-39 Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-Rise, Most Likely to Die, Independence Day: Resurgence, The Crow: City of Angels, Centurion)
0-19 Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie Stoner, The Forbidden Dimensions, Cyborg, Outcast, Sabotage)
My score for The Silence: 56.
I probably will not look back at this film favorably. This score will likely not age well. I’ve given The Silence far more credit than it deserves.