Friday, August 14, 2020

The Silencing Review: The Hunter is Hunting in Tense Thriller

Release date: August 14, 2020
Running time: 93 minutes
Starring: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Annabelle Wallis, Caleb Ellsworth-Clark, Josh Cruddas 

Rayburn (Coster-Waldau), a reformed hunter and Gustafson (Annabelle Wallis) a sheriff are caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse when they set out to track a killer who may have kidnapped the hunter’s daughter five years ago.  Rayburn has a tragic past that has encouraged him to live a secluded, hunter's life.  However, when strange occurrences happen on the land that he is setting up as a nature preserve, he is forced to confront this new threat and his past demons.  

This movie is about hunting, tracking, and being isolated, so naturally the film has a fantastic sense of dread.  The forests are imposing and the isolation is palatable.  The setting is so remote that it becomes a part of the whole movie.  The woods themselves contribute to this, hiding the threat and causing it to emerge seemingly at random.  It is a great setting for a thriller / horror film and one that will keep you constantly on edge.  Even when you think that Rayburn is safe, you are still tense because of what could happen off screen.  And this is only amplified by the wonderful music and sound.  When it comes on, it escalates the tension.  It really feels like everything in this movie is made to make you feel unease, and it does a great job at that.

Another thing I appreciated, and something that I have been noticing more and more in recent horror / thrillers is the adherence to make up and special effects, and not CGI.  This film is no exception, with some very good make up and blood effects.  Wounds look real, corpses look authentic, nothing really breaks your attention.  And the characters you meet are interesting and make you want to know more about them, although the film does a spotty job of filling you in.  Coster-Waldau is great as a retired hunter dealing with his own inner demons.  Annabelle Wallis as the law is convincing, trying to maintain a tough face despite the town not respecting her.  But their backstories aren't filled in very well and the movie does still have some questions about their motivations.  

The story of The Silencing is slow to develop, but does a good job establishing the characters and waiting for the threat to reveal itself.  It is definitely slow, but doesn't feel like it drags.  And the story also has an interesting plot twist or two that keeps the audience guessing.  But I also feel like the story left a few too many unanswered questions and a twist that seemed to come from nowhere.  The movie does such an amazing job setting the scene but then seems to not know how to conclude it confidently.  Additionally, I felt like some aspects of what were happening didn't have satisfying explanations, like the writers thought up this interesting premise but didn't connect all the dots.  

The Silencing's forest, music, and setting keep you on edge while you learn about the interesting characters and their inner demons.

Rent it.
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