As much as I like to make these posts, comparing a film adaptation to the book that came before it, this particular film is already subject to another comparison altogether. So, let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room, which is how strikingly similar The Silence’s concept is to that of A Quiet Place. Both follow a family with a deaf teen, attempting to survive an apocalyptic world, in which deadly creatures hunt people using sound. Though I concede wholeheartedly that The Silence suffers by this comparison, A Quiet Place being the far superior film, I think it’s entirely unfair to write off The Silence as a mere rip off, as many have. The book was penned long before A Quiet Place was conceived, and both films were in production at the same time. That The Silence now has to contend with inevitable comparisons to A Quiet Place is simply a case of unfortunate timing.
Now that that’s out the way, how do I actually feel about the film adaptation of The Silence? Lukewarm, sadly. Though it sticks fairly close to the source material, both the tension and the fun of the reading experience just didn’t seem to translate to the screen. The major problem, for me, was the pacing. The opening section was rushed, giving us no time to feel invested in the characters, and omitting the slowly mounting sense of panic and claustrophobia that I loved in the novel. Things then stall, the atmosphere never tense or scary enough to carry a film with almost no dialogue, and the emotional beats just not hitting home.
There are some good moments, the climax in particular, but the film is neither as serious as it wants to be, or as fun as it could have been, meaning it all sits firmly in the realms of mediocre.
The performances are fine, but no one is given a proper moment to shine, the characters feeling flat and emotionally underdeveloped. That said, I think Kate Trotter did particularly well with her role. It’s also worth pointing out that the actress playing Ally should have been deaf. I know little of Kiernan Shipka, and hold casting directors accountable more than I do her, but good parts for disabled actors are hard enough to come by, without handing out the few there are to hearing or able-bodied actors.
In short, this was a perfectly fine watch, and since it’s on Netflix, it’s worth giving a go if the concept appeals. When taken on its own, it probably seems like a solid enough flick. But when held up against the book (and, yes, A Quiet Place), it fails to live up to the hype, or to capitalise on its full potential.