Netflix is trying its hand at original movie content again. Today, the streaming giant released their adaptation of Tim Lebbon’s novel, The Silence. Though Lebbon published his novel several years ago, John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place beat Netflix to the punch by a year. Both movies share a similar post-apocalyptic premise – a new breed of predators that hunt by sound. Can The Silence carve out its own niche and succeed with the same concept? Or will it suffer from the inevitable comparisons?
Beneath the Appalachian mountains, a research team inadvertently releases a new species of carnivorous bats. The creatures, or ‘Vesps’, quickly spread and swarm crowded cities, hunting by sound. In a bid to survive, sixteen-year old deaf Ally and her family retreat into the countryside. But when ‘The Hushed’, a survivor cult, stumbles upon Ally, the family finds themselves fighting very human monsters.
Well, That Escalated Quickly …
The Silence doesn’t just embrace the standard cinematic post-apocalyptic tropes. On the contrary, director John R. Leonetti doubles down hard on familiar plot devices. Some post-apocalyptic movies, like The Domestics or A Quiet Place, start long after society’s downfall. In contrast, 28 Days Later and other dystopian movies build in a time lapse to illustrate their end of days. Not The Silence. Within days, landscapes are emptied. Death cults are up and running before the Internet stops working. Why? Because if we’ve learned anything from shows like The Walking Dead, it’s that humanity is the real enemy. Yawn. And yes, at one point, a character needs medicine necessitating what is intended to be a suspenseful trip beyond safe shelter.
In spite of ‘serious movie’ pretences, The Silence is riddled with illogical story developments.
Still it’s not just familiarity that hampers The Silence. In spite of ‘serious movie’ pretences, The Silence is riddled with illogical story developments. How could carnivorous bats survive trapped underground without a food source? On one hand, cities have fallen into disrepair with ‘end of the world’ graffiti, but FaceTime still works? Death cults haven’t just formed. They have names. And they’re recruiting. Silly monster movies can get away with these plot contrivances. But movies like Piranha 3D or The Meg also aren’t pretending to be anything more than popcorn entertainment.
The Silence Fails To Bring Its Premise To Life
To date, Netflix original movies have struggled to capture a cinematic feel. The Silence feels like a step backwards. While the creature design and special effects are better than your average SyFy channel movie, they fall well short of convincing. First, the Vesps’ creature design is a poor cross between a baby Xenomorph and a bat or chicken. Moreover, The Silence features some unconvincing CGI. There’s just a distinctly ‘small’ feel to the movie. One has to wonder why Leonetti would opt to show the ‘beginning of the end’ without the budget or scale to do it justice.
…The Silence is pretty quiet in the scares and suspense department.
As a filmmaker, Leonetti has directed Annabelle (the bad one), Wolves at the Door, Wish Upon … and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Not surprisingly then, The Silence is pretty quiet in the scares and suspense department. Even scenes that feel like they should be suspenseful – like running into a rattlesnake in a sewage pipe – fall flat. For some inexplicable reason, Leonetti also introduces ‘The Reverend’ and his cult, ‘The Hushed’ late in the movie. Ten minutes later or so and Ally et al have killed the villain in what can only be described as very a poorly edited scene.
The Silence A Disappointing Netflix Original
Disappointing is probably an understandment. To be perfectly honest, The Silence is a really bad movie. Bird Box may have underwhelmed, but Sandra Bullock was still amazing. Stanley Tucci, Miranda Otto, and Kiernan Shipka are all fantastic actors, but The Silence wastes their talents. Maybe it’s time to move on from ‘sensory horror’ before we get a movie where monsters hunt by smell. The Silence already stinks.