In a genre where the jump-scare and a scream is standard fare, The Silence bucks the trope as a horror movie where the characters can’t make a sound. The new Netflix movie features a strong cast, a naturally unfolding plot, and some brilliantly terrifying effects and direction to create this thriller.
The Silence, follows Ally Andrews (Kiernan Shipka), a deaf teenager whose family has to flee the city after an outbreak terrifying creatures who hunt by sound are released across the Eastern seaboard. To survive, Ally and her family seek refuge in a remote haven up north. The movie also stars Stanley Tucci, Kate Trotter, John Corbett, Kyle Breitkopf and Miranda Otto.
The Andrews are a likeable family living in New Jersey, and Ally’s story is an interesting one but one that isn’t delved into too deeply. We have the basics about how Ally lost her hearing in a car accident, we see her mocked by boys at school, and we see the one boy, Rob (Dempsey Bryk) who is learning how to sign.
Written by Carey and Shane Van Dyke, and based on the novel by Tom Lebbon, The Silence does a succint job of establishing the secrets this family is holding. Hugh Andrews (Tucci) is talking about the cost of a job and Kelly Andrews (Otto) is hiding her ailing mother’s illness from her kids.
While these don’t lead to long drawn-out confessional scenes they are essential to creating tension and are revelations that are used appropriately throughout the movie’s ninety-minute run time.
The baggage established in the early scenes doesn’t disappear once the family heads on the road to go up north and the enclosed space of the car and minimal movement also helps significantly drive the tension. In fact, most of how The Silence is shot seems to be centered on enclosed spaces, especially during the first half of the film.
When the news first breaks about the vesps, the family is congregating in the living room whee they are watching the news and puzzling out the danger they’re under, before they depart their home and head to the car. The car is an even tighter space made visually appealing by angles chosen, especially during a pivitol scene involving Ally’s dog. (Make sure you have tissues.)
The Andrews are compelling main characters, but the movie does break away from them in one instance for an establishing shot that isn’t entirely necessary. There’s a subway car scene where a crying baby is about to be tossed out. This scene is heart-wrenching but not needed, given how well the writers have incorporated technology into the story.
The Andrews first find out about the vesps from the news and the camera does not peel away at showing dead eviserated bodies.
For the duration of the film, Ally monitors the news networks and gives her family updates on what is being said and revealed. She talks about a man being crucified in Mississippi in one of the later scenes with her father, and if that was happening I have to wonder what else she found.
Another scene that stands out is the one at the gas station, which is one of the only times The Andrews interact with someone out of their circle. While other characters pop up, this is the only face-to-face interaction that The Andrews face outside their family. It’s dealt with quickly, but hard not to wonder why they didn’t encounter more people during their exodus.
The movie’s climax comes with a scene involving The Hushed, a cult of people who cut out their tongues to avoid making a sound.
We only really have The Andrews impressions of them to go on, but The Hushed seem like scary folk. Their escalation makes me wonder exactly what they want and what their end goal is exactly. They could have been built up a little more in that regard. Until they unleash their attack on The Andrews’ shelter it feels like their presence is the only terrifying thing about them.
The Silence still holds its own in the horror movie genre. The physical effects and camera work all aid in creating an environment that is tense and terrifying. From Ally watching the hairs stand up on her dog’s back to the lines of vesps on a wire the imagery is stunning and haunting. Even the special effects of the vesps have a certain lifelike quality to them that make them almost unsettling to look at.
But the movie doesn’t rely on horror effects, it’s about the character, and these characters are the kind that save the world, they save each other. For The Andrews it’s about their survival as a family unit and how they can adapt. Though it all, The Silence never loses its tension and the plot unfolds in a natural progression leading to an ending that feels perfectly deserved and fulfilling.
What did you think of The Silence? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
The Silence is now available on Netflix.
Want more from Tell-Tale TV? Subscribe to our newsletter here!