“The Silence,” Netflix’s new original film released April 22, abides by many of the rules found within the horror genre but still keeps viewers on edge throughout. The film was anticipated as one of Netflix’s most notable April releases but has been subjected to much criticism after its release due to the unoriginal plot, odd pacing and forgettable cinematography.
The film follows the life of a deaf high-school student, Ally Andrews (Kiernan Shipka,) as she attempts to flee with her family from the recently released Vesps. The Vesps are pterodactyl-like creatures who evolved underground and attack anyone or anything that makes noise. With a cast that includes stars like Stanley Tucci, Miranda Otto, John Corbett and Kate Trotter, you would think that the film would be engaging and thrilling. However, you would sadly be mistaken. Despite skillful acting, the unoriginality of the film makes it difficult to take seriously.
The story of the film is eerily similar to that of the hit 2018 movie “A Quiet Place.” Both films include a family where having a deaf daughter helps them adapt to a post-apocalyptic world where staying silent is a matter of life or death. Despite the fact that “The Silence” was put into production before the release of “A Quiet Place” in 2018, it is impossible to not compare the two. I attempted to keep an open mind when watching “The Silence,” but it was difficult with the two films being so similar, especially when “A Quiet Place” is superior in both plot and writing.
One thing that “A Quiet Place” does not have is a religious cult that attempts to kidnap the protagonist. This subplot is introduced in “The Silence” with only 20 minutes left in the film. When watching at this point, I was expecting some type of resolution or continuation of the current conflict regarding the Vesps and the Andrews. Instead, I was introduced to another conflict involving a religious cult that cuts out the tongues of its members and attempts to kidnap Ally from her family. This conflict carries on throughout the rest of the film, into the climax which is also related to this cult. If the religious cult aspect were better interwoven into the plot of the movie, or even introduced earlier to allow for further development, their appearance might have been genuinely eerie and unsettling. But since it was not, their appearance feels like an afterthought in an already lacking plot.
This is only one example of how the pacing and plot of the film feel incomplete. The suddenness of the plot shifts, paired with a narrative that goes nowhere until the end, adds to a feeling that the film was not as well thought out as it should have been or that the production process was cut short or rushed.
Not all of the film is horrible. There are a few suspenseful scenes in “The Silence,” including one when Ally’s father (Stanley Tucci) attempts to test his theory of the Vesps’ blindness by exiting the safety of their car. However, most people do not watch movies for one or two great scenes and prefer to watch it for the full experience.
The aftermath of watching “The Silence” is dealing with a redundant plot and confusing conflict. However, the performances by the many stars are genuinely one of the best things in it.
I am personally a fan of Shipka in “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” and was glad to see her in another large role. Tucci was also impressive as Hugh Andrews, and his performance as a caring father was incredibly compelling. The supporting characters do not get as much screen time, but their acting is fitting for the roles they play in the film.
All in all, I would not recommend “The Silence” for its great quality. However, I think it is one of those movies that you can casually watch with friends when you can’t decide on anything else. It is an entertaining movie when you are watching it, but it does not leave you wanting to discuss any deeper meaning or symbolism after.
The movie is an attempt at an interesting horror movie idea that falls flat when compared to its competition. Despite Netflix’s success with “Bird Box,” it has not yet perfected its algorithm when creating great horror films, and “The Silence” is the most recent example of this.