The Silence (2019)
written by Dan Lee
In The Silence, directed by John R. Leonetti, the Andrews family tries to survive a natural disaster of biblical proportions which is only made worse by religious cult influence. This Netflix original, based on the 2015 Tim Lebbon novel of the same name, looks and feels derivative of other sensory deprivation horror films of recent years. However, despite this flaw in marketing and pitch, the story is unique, suspenseful, and gruesome.
Ally Andrews (Kiernan Shipka) was left deaf after a car accident. She adapted quickly, learning sign language and lip reading along with her family, and has a strong independent streak the way any teenager on the cusp of adulthood might. Her parents, specifically her father Hugh (Stanley Tucci) have become somewhat overprotective in the wake of this new lifestyle and, at times, can be a bit overbearing. And that’s before the end of the world.
When a cave near the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania is uncovered by explorers, an ancient breed of prehistoric winged creature, the Vesp, is accidentally released into the world. These creatures swarm and slaughter anything in their path. The Vesps, evolving in darkness for millions of years, hunt by sound and begin to slaughter their way through densely crowded cities like locusts in a field. This is only the beginning of the Andrews family’s problems.
Unlike the more widely known A Quiet Place (2018), The Silence is a multifaceted disaster horror with elements of suspense, action, and gore woven into the narrative. Lighting and cinematography for the film are incredible with some scenes more reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds or Ron Underwood’s Tremors. Meanwhile, the CGI and creature design leave something to be desired, but that can easily be overlooked in the overall design of the film.
If there is anything to critique with The Silence, it’s that there are so many story elements to unpack that nothing feels fully developed outside of the family dynamic. Many aspects of the story, from the nature of the disaster to the rise of the cult behavior in the region, feel nuanced but not quite fully explored. The ending, as well, feels a bit anticlimactic but, again, this has more to do with the amount of story being told in the 90 minute run-time.
The Silence is definitely worth a watch, most especially for its interesting characters, suspenseful pacing and the bizarre horror circumstances of the plot.