Welcome to a quiet place. Oh, no – wait. That’s the other movie. The Silence is a movie where vicious creatures hunt by sound, quickly decimating the human population. A family with a deaf daughter find their ability to communicate by sign language ideally suited to survival in the new, silent, world they must inhabit. Now, pick which of those two movies I am describing, because it could literally be either.
Unfortunately, whereas A Quiet Place is a critically acclaimed movie praised by the likes of Stephen King, The Silence has some problems. Luckily, this isn’t the cast. Calm but fearful, Stanley Tucci lends dramatic weight to role as father of the Andrews family. Their teenage daughter Ally suffered a car accident some three years prior which rendered her deaf. As as result, the whole family can communicate through sign language.
Ally (Keirnan Shipka) plays the teenager thrown into tragedy well. And the cast is rounded out by usual loving mother, grandmother and excitable younger brother.
The lethal creatures, dubbed ‘Vesps’, that hunt them are scary enough. But the problem with The Silence isn’t the threat. It’s the loose stitching together of events combined with no discernable character arcs for anyone. With a lean 90 minute run time, the Andrews family move from some light establishment scenes into survival mode very quickly.
The movie tracks them trying to find shelter and, shortly after they find one, a tongueless cult is thrown into the mix with a deafening ‘clunk’ for the final 25 minutes. Tucci’s fearful defence of his daughter (whom they dub ‘fertile’ in a chilling sequence) is well played, but the threat is too little too late.
Also, exactly how much time has passed? When we first see the Andrews family the crisis is just hitting, and yet one car journey and trek through the woods later we’re at the ‘tongueless cults’ level of societal collapse? Did they go barmy overnight? Not enough time is shown to pass for it to be believable that the crazy survivalists have kicked in. Their inclusion comes across as an exercise in manufacturing a third act challenge rather than a natural progression of plot.
The Silence has some tense moments but never makes use of its premise. Ally’s deafness doesn’t get them out of any situations, nor does she suffer any extra danger because of it. And when the family can all whisper without issue, what really is the point? Good performances rescue the movie and make it watchable. But really it’s a poor version of movies made much better elsewhere. Check out Bird Box instead. Or isn’t there that other movie? Quite a similar plot. Something about a place…one that’s quiet…
Words by Michael Record