A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Silence is a 2019 dystopian horror movie in which a family struggles to survive after creatures emerge who attack and kill anything or anyone that makes noise. Dystopian horror violence throughout -- dead bodies shown on roads and inside buildings, bloodied and ripped to shreds after getting attacked by hideous-looking prehistoric flying monsters (called "vesps"). Characters are attacked and killed by these vesps. The family dog is left to die because of its barking. Fighting with rifles, guns, knives, spears, crowbars, punches, kicks, headbutts. Flashback of a car accident that left one of the lead characters with hearing loss. A scene in which one of the lead characters suffers a car accident and is pinned inside the wreckage of their flipped-over SUV. Antagonists try to kidnap a teen girl with the intention to rape her because she is "fertile." High school bullies mock a deaf teen girl, making fun of the way she talks. When a family learns that their teen daughter has a boyfriend, the tween brother says that "she just wants to bone him." A positive aspect of this movie is that one of the lead characters is a deaf teen girl who lives a life similar to many teen girls, and her disability proves to be a strength later in the movie, as she displays courage and resourcefulness time and time again when faced with life-or-death situations. However, many deaf actors have taken exception to Shipka's performance and director John Leonetti saying that Shipka had an "almost innate sense of what it's like being a deaf person." Families may want to discuss Shipka's performance, and their thoughts on non-deaf actors playing deaf characters.
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What's the story?
In THE SILENCE, while digging into an uncharted cave system deep below the Appalachian Trail, scientists unleash prehistoric flying creatures who immediately swarm aboveground and destroy everything in their path. Called "vesps," these predators attack anything that makes noise. Meanwhile, the Andrews family of Montclair, New Jersey live a more-or-less normal suburban existence; the father, Hugh (Stanley Tucci), runs a construction business with his best friend Glenn (John Corbett), the mother, Kelly, is taking care of her dying mother while raising their video game-obsessed tween son Jude and deaf teen daughter Ally (Kiernan Shipka). But when the news reports start coming in about these vesps and how they're wiping out the human population of the northeastern United States, the Andrews family decides to go as far away as possible to regions less populated. They soon learn that their ability to communicate with ASL is a plus, as it's now impossible to survive by making any noise louder than a whisper. The Andrews eventually find their way to an isolated farmhouse, but when the mother survives a vesp attack, Hugh and Ally must go to the nearest town to find antibiotics. On this journey, they encounter a mysterious preacher, who asks them to join their cult, and while they try to avoid him, they soon learn that his plans are far more insidious, and the Andrews family must find a way to stop him and somehow go north to safety, because the news is reporting that the vesps cannot live in the cold.
Is it any good?
While this movie is based on a 2015 novel, it's impossible to find fault with those who see the many similarities between this movie and 2017's A Quiet Place. The debatable timing of "who came first" makes The Silence a movie that cannot be dismissed as simply a "mockbuster." That said, on its own terms, The Silence is a decent slice of dystopian fare for the teen set. It's a little rough at times -- the CGI isn't the best, the movie's biggest antagonist isn't given enough time to fully develop into someone the audience can root against, and some of the tropes (the baby who can't be shushed, the dog who won't stop barking in a world where silence is the only way to survive) come off as more than a little stock -- but The Silence still manages to deliver a great deal of suspense, as well as a willingness to fully explore the large and small ramifications of the cataclysmic event in question.
Overall, the cast rescues a script that feels not quite there. As the father, Stanley Tucci strikes a nice balance between a loving parent and a guy trying to get in touch with his brave side. As the teen daughter, Kiernan Shipka doesn't limit or define her character as strictly being a deaf teen, but as a character who has spent and continues to spend her life adapting to daunting challenges. Overall, The Silence isn't a perfect movie, but it isn't boring either.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about dystopian movies. What are some other examples of movies in which the near-future is shown to be a far bleaker than the present? What do you think is the appeal of these movies?
The Silence was based on a book. What would be the challenges in adapting a book into a movie?
Many deaf actors have expressed anger at Kiernan Shipka's performance as a deaf teenager, and criticized director John Leonetti's praise, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, of Shipka's "flawless" signing, and her "almost innate sense of what it's like being a deaf person." Do you agree or disagree with these criticisms?
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