A film with a lot of wasted potential, The Silencing is a serial killer thriller which is nothing to shout about. Stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Annabelle Wallis try their best with what they have, but even they seem bored by the time the film’s climax rolls around.
Coster-Waldau is Rayburn Swanson, a former hunter who now runs a wildlife sanctuary. When a body washes-up near the town of Echo Falls, Rayburn joins Sheriff Alice Gustafson (Annabelle Wallis) in attempting to track down the killer. Each of them has their own problems – Rayburn has hit the bottle after his teenage daughter went missing five years before, and Gustafson is the under-appreciated new Sheriff who is having difficulty keeping tabs on her wayward younger brother.
The Silencing sees director Robin Pront making his directorial debut, but he’s not served well by Micah Ranum’s cliched screenplay. It’s novel that the killer uses an Atlatl – an ancient spear-throwing weapon to kill his victims – but it’s not enough to overcome the myriad of tropes that we’ve seen a dozen times before. At the half-way point in The Silencing there’s an intriguing twist which offers to take the film in an original (and potentially exciting) direction, but this is negated within mere minutes of it occurring. It’s a huge shame because it would have made the film a whole lot more enjoyable. Also, the killer’s trademark of removing his victim’s voice box is something which isn’t wholly explained and it’s as if Pront and Ranum just can’t be bothered going into any detail.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Annabelle Wallis are both perfectly fine in their respective roles, but they don’t mange to do anything other than bring their generic characters to life. However, Coster-Waldau does manage to show remarkable healing powers throughout the movie, particularly when the artist formerly known as Jaime Lannister is seen scrubbing his kitchen floor five minutes after getting a bullet taken out of his stomach in a caravan next to a crack den.
Over the years there have been hundreds of serial killer films and some of these have been classics (The Silence of The Lambs, Seven, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) but sadly many of them have been pretty substandard. The Silencing falls into the latter category. A lack of thrills and tension means that it’s a total bore – and that’s the real crime here.