Updated: Apr 19, 2019
One of my goals this year is to watch as many 2019 movies as I can. Basically, what that means is my wife or I find a 2019 movie on a streaming service and we just press play. Most of the time, there aren’t a lot of options so we end up watching something we never would have given a chance otherwise. What it also means is I might end up stepping on Matt McNeal’s toes over on the 2Spooky page when I have to review a horror movie instead of my usual action fare. Case in point, THE SILENCE (2019).
The Silence is one of the most recent Netflix originals released this year and I’ll be honest, as soon as I saw the trailer, I had absolutely no interest in seeing it. It looked like a poor man’s version of A Quiet Place (2018) except, instead of just one big monster, there’s a swarm of little bat-like monsters (called vesps) that hunt based on noise.
This movie is definitely a mess. The screenplay is poorly written by Carey and Shane Van Dyke, a brother writing duo behind the completely unwatchable 2012 found footage horror film Chernobyl Diaries (18% on Rotten Tomatoes). You might be thinking, “Surely, they have honed their craft and improved since then?” Nope. They haven’t, because they literally haven’t written anything since 2012! Who the hell thought it would be a good idea to approach these guys to write this screenplay?!
I’ve never read Tim Lebbon’s novel this is based on, but he is a Bram Stroker Award winner (presented annually by the Horror Writers Association (HWA) for "superior achievement" in dark fantasy and horror writing), so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and blame these guys for their horrible adaptation.
To make matters worse, it is directed by John R. Leonetti, who’s directing career got off to an awful start with 1997’s Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (2% on Rotten Tomatoes) and didn’t get much better from there. Since then he’s done Annabelle (2014, his highest rated movie at 29%), Wish Upon (2017, 20% on RT), and now this one with a 27% on RT.
Fans of the Netflix series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will recognize Kiernan Shipka playing the main character, Ally Andrews. She does a fine job, but her role is too bland and the movie is just too stupid for her to really impact it. Even Stanley Tucci (Spotlight, The Hunger Games) as her father, Hugh, isn’t able to save the movie. I respect what he was trying to do with the role, playing Hugh as a reserved man striving to maintain calm and control to help his family through these situations. Unfortunately, the director, Leonetti, is completely unable to generate any tension throughout, and Tucci’s understated performance doesn’t help matters. The result is a movie that is pretty boring, and one that drags despite only being 90 minutes long.
The plot is a disjointed mess that to me boils down to being an A Quiet Place-like premise with some The Walking Dead thrown in. I say that because, much like how The Walking Dead uses the zombies as a background plot device while other humans are the ‘real monsters, The Silence does the same thing with the vesps. About halfway through the movie, they apparently ran out of ideas for boring, tensionless, be-quiet-and-sneak-around-or-the-creatures-kill-you scenes and they decided there needed to be a cliche human villain for the family to deal with.
A religious leader, simply called The Reverend, finds the family and pleads them to join his group, or flock, or cult, or whatever the hell you want to call it. They call themselves ‘The Hushed’ and they have their tongues cut out, so The Reverend communicates by writing in a notebook. He’s not very efficient at it. He writes in HUGE letters and uses a new page for every sentence. This dude is going to run out of pages really quickly! It’s all very silly stuff. Anyways, the family recognizes a weird psycho villain when they see one, so they politely tell him no thanks and head on their way. That’s not the end of it though, as The Reverend and some of his Insane Hushed Posse show up to the farm house and tell Stanley Tucci they want his daughter because she is ‘fertile’. Trust me, I don’t get it either. He just comes out with that stuff out of nowhere and he acts like it’s not some really crazy shit to be saying to her father. The motivation for this wacky preacher is never really explained. He’s just the bad guy because the story needed a bad guy.
The bad news is, all that stuff about The Hushed is incredibly stupid so it doesn’t really turn this into a good movie. The good news, however, is that stuff does push this movie into the so-bad-it’s-good territory. Once the Pervert Preacher shows up, things just go completely off the rails. My favorite bit was when he attacks the family using cell phones by sending a little girl suicide bomber into the house. Instead of a bomb vest strapped to her chest though, she’s got a vest full of cell phones. Once the family lets the ‘helpless little girl’ into the house, The Reverend makes the phones ring causing the vesps to swarm the house. The family grabs all the phones and destroys them, but then more phones start ringing. This no tongue having pile of crap duct taped phones to all the windows on the house!! I don’t know how he did it without the family noticing (or without the vesps noticing for that matter. I’ve used duct tape before. That stuff is LOUD), but he made it happen. In my opinion, it would have been easier to just chuck a rock through a couple windows, that way the vesps are attracted to that noise and get inside the house. I don’t know, I guess his plan has more style so I won’t judge too much.
I won’t spoil all of them, but this movie has a bunch of zany little touches like that. Things that don’t quite save them movie from being awful, but do save it from feeling like a complete waste of time. Overall, The Silence is an absolute mess, which shouldn’t be a surprise for anybody considering the utter lack of talent behind it. I won’t recommend that anybody watch this movie, but if you’re in the mood for a ridiculous, plot hole riddled mess that can be a bit fun with the right mindset, then maybe this is your thing.