The Silence (2019) – Review

The Silence is now streaming on Netflix.

[Ed. Note: Being that TV and City is on a bit of a hiatus, this article has not been edited.]

By Greg Wheeler

In recent years a brand new sub-genre of horror has emerged, paving the way for a more unique sensory experience on the big screen than ever before. Following on from the success of Hush, A Quiet Place and more recently Bird Box, The Silence follows in their footsteps with a unique take on this genre. Despite a nice idea and some good action set pieces, for the most part, The Silence feels really inconsistent, failing to establish its characters, world or lore with enough conviction to make it a more memorable film. With a lack of horror and urgency for much of its run time, The Silence wastes some good work early on, falling into the realm of mediocrity.

The film itself opens with a brief prologue, a scene designed to get us accustomed to the world and see firsthand the horror unleashed on the world. As an excavation team tunnel into unexplored territory, they unwittingly crack open a seal, unleashing millions of blood-thirsty bats that hunt based on sound. As the world is plunged into chaos, one family struggles to survive. At the heart of the tale is deaf girl Ally who somehow adapts to her surroundings through high-pitched frequencies, sensing when the bats draw nearer. As the family navigate this new, silenced world with the help of Ally, the family stumble from one area to the next, trying to find refuge and sanctuary

The Silence has the potential to be a really compelling title and for parts of its run time, it absolutely is. One tense moment midway through the film involving a car and a barking dog draws on the inspiration of A Quiet Place and expands it, adding far more urgency to proceedings whilst dragging the scene out just long enough to show the way these bats behave without throwing expository dialogue our way. Another sees Ally and her Father Hugh navigating an eerily quiet, deserted town trying not to make a sound while someone watches from afar. It’s moments like this that really give the film some bite but they’re unfortunately surrounded by more lacklustre scenes than the film deserves.

Excluding the rushed, poorly written ending that sees multiple questions raised and a head-scratching conclusion, the film throws many unnatural bites of dialogue throughout its run time. Late on, Ally comments on the bats, mentioning they’re being named “Vesp” due to their swarm-like nature. The family then switch on the radio only to have this reinforced by the radio broadcast. Moments like this crop up throughout the film and along with the inconsistent pacing, make The Silence a film that can’t quite hit its stride.

Now, the film itself is enjoyable and there are certainly some original ideas here to help it stand out next to others in this genre. The creature design is good and the actual concept of The Silence works really well. With far more of its run-time taking place during the downfall of humanity rather than dabbling in post-apocalyptic ruins, there’s certainly a unique slant given to this one to help it stand out. It’s just a shame that the execution doesn’t quite match the promising ideas.

The Silence will undoubtedly be a film that completely divides opinion. Some will love the unique take on this genre and there are certainly some standout moments here regardless of how you feel about the movie itself. Unfortunately, the rushed ending, inconsistent pacing, and under-developed characters make this a disappointing entry in an already-crowded field. While there is enjoyment to be had with this one, it’s fleeting at best and unlikely to be a film you’ll return to in a hurry.

I give The Silence a D.

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