Netflix’s latest original film The Silence has a strong air of déjà vu about it. It’s an almost greatest hits collection of the most popular sci-fi horror movies of the last two years, combining the best of their ideas to try to create something which in itself is original. Unfortunately, here these ideas fall flat in a manner which is almost disrespectful to the acclaimed films The Silence copies.
Director John R. Leonetti (Annabelle, Wish Upon) tries to recreate the same general story of A Quiet Place while incorporating elements and social commentary from other Netflix movie Bird Box. It is a straightforward task of pinpointing where exactly The Silence loses its basic plot. By the end it is a dive into the monotonous, which also manages to be completely scare-free.
The Silence is set in a future world ravaged by an ancient unearthed species. Sprung from the core of the earth, they are mutant bat-like animals. Being bats they hunt by sound. The movie focuses on the Andrews family who have a deaf daughter. Luckily they are all able to communicate through sign language. The audience follows their journey as they try reach a safe place of shelter without becoming lunch for these monstrous beings.
On paper The Silence should work. The special effects are excellent and the cast is strong. The Andrews family comprises of Miranda Otto (The Daughter), Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games) and Kiernan Shipka (The Blackcoat’s Daughter). Yet, the subtle touches that made A Quiet Place work – such as it’s lack of dialogue to help immerse viewers in its noiseless world – are lacking in The Silence. In fact, the latter’s characters often talk audibly to each other while communicating through sign language, defeating the purpose of the entire premise.
The film has a paint-by-numbers laziness to it, best personified by the sudden introduction of an evil, tongueless cult led by a generically ominous figure dubbed The Reverend (Billy MacLellan). Unlike in Bird Box where the villainous gangs Sandra Bullock encountered felt tied to the story and gestured towards some greater social commentary, here they add nothing. They are just a byproduct of the post apocalyptic world and become no more than another obstacle for the Andrews family to overcome.
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The only real twist to this misfire by Netflix is the fact it’s based on a novel of the same name which actually predates A Quiet Place. The Silence is the original idea which the John Krasinski film drew from. Perhaps, this is why the Netflix horror seems so rushed. Maybe the streaming service thought The Silence would cash in on the success of the aforementioned.
In a time when the horror genre is moving steadily into a more psychological, socially aware framework, original ideas are more than ever the selling point to any movie. However, if they are not original, than the delivery must be executed with precision. Here, unfortunately it is not, making for a slow predictable creature feature which like its prehistoric antagonists should have been made extinct early on.