A balance of the five senses is what normally makes a human being. Cut out from one and suddenly a person is deemed strange, abnormal or defective. And that’s exactly what one of the main characters of Netflix’s original movie “The Silence” is faced with. Becoming deaf after an accident leads her to being outcasted by a few people yet, little did they know, that her family and her own mastery of living in minimal noise and knowing sign language serves as their ultimate advantage when something unexplainably monstrous suddenly attacks the continental United States.
The movie does not provide any lengthy prologue before the horrid situation hits. At best, it simply introduces us to the Andrews family: Ally (played by Kiernan Shipka), the deaf eldest daughter of Hugh (played by Stanley Tucci) and Kelly (played by Miranda Otto), her younger brother Jude (played by Kyle Harrison Breitkopf) and Kelly’s mom/Ally and Jude’s grandmother, Lynn (played by Kate Trotter). For the monsters, we are made known that they were released from their underground sanctuary when some cave expeditioners ended up bombing their home open thus releasing them into the world—or more specifically, the U.S. Hence, the start of chaos.
When people are told to stay within their homes, a more observant Ally, having a more heightened sense of vibration and sight due to her deafness, convinces her entire family plus Hugh’s best friend and practically their uncle, Glenn (played by John Corbett), to leave the city as soon as they can. She notes how the creatures are attracted to sound and that staying within the city where sounds are the loudest may not be the safest thing to do. While on the road, Glenn’s car drives off a steep hill after getting startled by a deer herd escaping. His car flips over and, with Hugh unable to pry him free, he tells him to just leave and find safety. After the Andrews family inside their car is attacked by the creatures (now known as “Vesps”), Glenn distracts them and sacrifices himself to the vesps by firing his gun so that the family can escape.
The family winds up staying in a house where the owner is inadvertently killed by the vesps as she was trying to scare the Andrews away from her property. Kelly is wounded by the creatures as the family was trying to get into the house through a storm drain to avoid the barbed fence enclosing the property that was making too much noise. Knowing that she needs medicine and quick, Hugh and Ally travel to the nearest deserted town in search for some. After narrowly escaping some vesps inside the drug store, they encounter a weird reverend-looking cultist (played by Billy MacLellan) who tries to make them join his cult. The two manage to make their way without having to cause too much trouble although not realizing that the reverend still seems to have some other plan to get them to join.
Some time passes, as we see Kelly has gotten better, when the cult arrives at the Andrews’ doorstep. They try and recruit the family as they primarily cite interest with Ally since they see her as being “fertile”. Angry, Hugh threatens to shoot them as the cult slowly backs off and leaves.
The climax of the film happens when a showdown between the Andrews family and the cult ensues. Ally is kidnapped after their house is infiltrated by the cult members and Lynn sacrifices herself as a distraction so that Ally can properly escape after she bites one of the kidnappers who lets her go in pain. Hugh, initially stabbed by the reverend, ends up beating him to death with a shotgun and the family retreat to their home as the remaining cult members leave for good.
The remaining Andrews pursue going North of America where the weather gets drastically lower and colder. Getting information from Ally’s boyfriend, Rob (played by Dempsey Bryk), who survived the attacks and found his way to the refuge, it turns out that the creatures become weak and can even die after long exposure to cold temperatures. The family makes it to there and the movie closes with Ally and Rob hunting stray vesps near their area as Ally contemplates on whether or not the vesps will eventually learn to adapt to the cold or if it is man who will learn how to adapt to a silent way of living much like she learned how to after becoming deaf.
Over-all, it definitely is hard not to compare “The Silence” with its bigger screen counterpart “A Quiet Place” simply because the gist of it all is practically the same. Stay silent and move in silence long enough and you may just survive these terrible creatures who have their ears as eyes. Both films show just how resilient man can be when it comes to the ultimate task of survival and, ironically, both films have at least one character who is deaf to prove how, even if one loses hearing, it does not make them any less of a person. If not, it heightens all other senses even more enough for it to become a general advantage of noticing things normal people cannot.
Nonetheless, “The Silence” is still riddled with several plot holes and what honestly feels like a lack of coherence amongst its scenes. Getting thrown in almost immediately to the vesps issue whilst simultaneously being bombarded at the weirdest of moments with cut scenes to different victims in various situations or those brief moments when any one of the Andrews learn something new about the creatures, it can make one feel ultimately cut-off from being truly immersed into the movie. Which is honestly such a shame since an incredibly talented cast is dimmed by a plot such as this.
Yet, the film still does manage to close off to the bittersweet thoughtful notion of survival of the fittest. Will the vesps or man adapt first? Hopefully, the latter since, as we have been proven time and time over, man’s resilience and will to survive truly is incredibly powerful especially when driven by things like community or family as seen with the Andrews.
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