Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 400-Word Review: The Silence

Netflix's new horror film has a plot unfortunately similar to a giant hit. Can it succeed in spite of that bit of bad luck?

Photo courtesy Netflix

Right off the bat: Yes, “The Silence” has a premise oddly similar to that of horror favorite “A Quiet Place.” Based on a 2015 novel and filmed before the latter film, “The Silence” had the misfortune of watching its unwitting rival become a colossal hit, making any movie where characters avoid peril through quiet seem like a rip-off.

It’s not an imitation, just a coincidence. And there are plenty of flaws in “The Silence,” unnecessary and inconsistent voice-over chief among them. I found myself enjoying it, though — a product of simple and reliable structure.

A too-perfect family — played by Kiernan Shipka, Stanley Tucci, Miranda Otto, Kyle Harrison Breitkopf, John Corbett and Kate Trotter — flee their home after the arrival of a particularly violent invasive species. Freed from a subterranean cave by unfortunate spelunkers, the flying creatures (dubbed “vesps” in the film) hunt prey by sound, swarming and devouring their targets like airborne piranhas. Also: There are millions of them. Also: It’s very tough to kill them, since things like guns and flamethrowers tend to make noise.

Our Jerseyite family tries to head inland, intending to take cover in a small town — ride out the apocalypse in the Poconos! — but is quickly overtaken by the swarm. There’s also the pressing matter of a silent doomsday cult which has arisen in the creatures’ wake.

Let’s not be overly polite: A lot of “The Silence” doesn’t work. The aforementioned narration is clunky and unnecessary. The effects are unconvincing; we really shouldn’t have ever had a clear view of the creatures, which recall Pterri from “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” more than a sinister monster should. Tucci’s performance is oddly subdued; it’s as though he was trying to project strength for his family which would later break, but the script never gets around to challenging him.

And yet, perhaps because “The Silence” sticks to the creature-feature plot structure established by “The X-Files,” I enjoyed it well enough. We see the discovery of the creatures; we meet our characters; our characters learn about the chaos; they try to survive. It’s efficient, it moves, it works for easy, home viewing. And, while I’m not sure why Shipka’s character needed to be deaf (the filmmakers were criticized for not casting a deaf actress), her performance has a spark to it. Bad effects aside, “The Silence” is a suitably creepy way to spend an evening.

My Rating: 6/10

"The Silence" is streaming now on Netflix.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Back to School: 20 Famous Pittsburghers' Yearbook Photos

Can you put names to the faces of these notable Pittsburgh graduates?

Pirates’ Epitaph: July 2019 – The Bucs Stopped Here

Clint Hurdle’s team was respectable, and in a contending position at the All-Star break. Then the bottom fell out, and the Pirates have looked like Little Leaguers ever since. All that remains now is to see how far they can actually sink.

The 400-Word Review: American Factory

This impressive documentary, produced in part by Barack and Michelle Obama, is loaded with insight and perspective.

The 400-Word Review: The Peanut Butter Falcon

"The Peanut Butter Falcon," an indie comedy with great performances, thinks a bit more of itself than it earns.

The 400-Word Review: Ready or Not

Don't mistake this for another half-hearted teen scream. "Ready or Not" is an enjoyable horror satire.

Don't Let Headlines Keep You Away from the South Side

The weekend volcano went off on East Carson on Saturday night. That doesn't mean the neighborhood has a fundamental problem.

Steelers Challenge: Making the Most of Big Ben’s Final Years

The Steelers couldn’t find a franchise quarterback between Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger. Now, with Roethlisberger as the sole remaining link to the team’s Super Bowl success, the time for another championship run is now — or it might not be for a while.

Restaurant Review: Alta Via

With its first new restaurant in 15 years, the big Burrito Restaurant Group proves it still has it.

The Amazing and Important Things Being Taught Off Campus

For Pittsburgh’s universities, some of the most dynamic research and learning take place beyond campus borders.

A Helping Hand: School Supplies as Easy as ABC

The Education Partnership helps teachers get what they need without breaking the bank.

Coworking Gets Down to Business in Pittsburgh

Sharing a workspace becomes more than just a place to plug in a laptop for entrepreneurs seeking an environment where they interact and help others.

Find Out How to Play Hockey at the Bottom of a Pool

Penguins skate on the ice; stingrays swim below it. See what happens when they toss the puck in the pool.

A Unique Honor for the King of Dukes

Duquesne basketball legend Chuck Cooper broke the NBA’s color line in 1950; next year, he’s getting a posthumous, one-of-a-kind honor at his former campus.

Our 50 Years: Myron Cope on Sports

In the earliest years of Pittsburgh Magazine, we didn’t quite know how to cover sports — so we just let Myron Cope say whatever he wanted.

Pigeon Bagels Opens In Squirrel Hill

Gab Taube opened a standalone location for her popular bagel business in July and we're very happy about it.