The Silencing

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Silencing Movie Poster Image
Solid but violent mystery-thriller has good performances.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Story involves people taking the law into their own hands. Viewers can discuss ideas of where the line is when it comes to law and justice. Should authorities always have the final word? Who decides what's right and what's wrong?

Positive Role Models & Representations

Rayburn does some pretty awful things, but in final moments seems to want to fully reform. He gives up drinking, makes other positive changes, having learned lessons from his mistakes. In general, characters are interestingly flawed. Underlying tension between White and Native American characters.


Young women/teen girls are kidnapped, murdered. A girl is gagged, tied up. Women are being hunted; dead woman shown. Gaping neck wound. Guns and shooting; a character is shot. Ancient Native American spears and arrows are shown/used; characters are stabbed. Blood spurts. A character stitches his own wound. A character fights with a "monster," punching, smashing. Character with bruised, bloody face. "Pitfall," where animals are trapped and killed, is shown. A character falls into the pitfall; bloody face, gurgling noises. Character steps on bear trap (off-screen); viewers hear a snap and screaming. A newspaper story tells how a child was locked up in a barn by abusive foster parents. Threat with scalpel. Stuffed, dead animals.


Scantily clad pole dancer in a bar. Mentions of prostitution, "paying for sex."


Frequent language includes uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "goddamn," "son of a bitch," "whore," "stupid," "take a leak," plus "Jesus Christ" as an exclamation. Middle-finger gestures.


Mention of Walmart.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main character is addicted to alcohol. He drinks throughout (beer, whiskey, etc.) and appears intoxicated in front of a class of children. A flashback reveals how stopping at a liquor store resulted in his daughter being kidnapped. In the end, he empties and throws away his bottles, changes his ways. Other characters drink beers.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Silencing is a solid crime drama about a grieving, obsessed father (Game of ThronesNikolaj Coster-Waldau) and an outcast sheriff looking for a kidnapper/murderer. It has extremely strong violence, including young women being kidnapped and tied up and gagged. There's also a gaping throat wound, a dead body, and a story about a boy being held prisoner by abusive foster parents. It also has guns and shooting, Native American spears and arrows, blood spurts, injuries, and more. Language is also frequent and strong, with uses of "f--k" and "s--t." The main character is addicted to alcohol; he drinks frequently (beer and whiskey) and is shown drunk in front of children. He makes a hopeful effort to quit by the end. Other characters drink beer. A scantily clad woman pole dances at a bar, and there are references to sex work.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMommaG3 October 5, 2020

Great movie!

I was skeptical about this film because I had never heard of it but it was really great! The story is intense and thrilling. The main character is an alcoholic... Continue reading
Adult Written byPhonyCheese68 October 3, 2020

this is a very well made movie

The characters where well developed for their backgrounds and the production values where quite high-not cheap. All in all, a very well made mystery/action fi... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bydingo_dude August 15, 2020

It was okay

This movie does have fighting and violence in it, nothing gory just punching, stabbing and shooting. The movie itself is slow and kinda boring, it’s okay to wat... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE SILENCING, Rayburn Swanson (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) runs a wildlife sanctuary deep in the Minnesota woods. He drinks too much and is obsessed with finding his missing daughter, who's been gone for five years. Meanwhile, a woman's corpse washes up from the river, and new sheriff Alice Gustafson (Annabelle Wallis) investigates, discovering that the victim was hunted with a Native American spearhead. Alice also has her hands full with her troublemaking brother, Brooks (Hero Fiennes Tiffin). Then Rayburn is attacked in the woods by a mysterious thing covered in black fur, which is easily able to hide among the underbrush. Alice and Rayburn find themselves simultaneously following the same trail to the actual kidnapper/killer.

Is it any good?

Wintry and woodsy, this small-scale thriller is closer to a decent episode of The Killing than The Silence of the Lambs. But it works due to the interestingly flawed characters and fine performances. Written by Micah Ranum and directed by Robin Pront, The Silencing establishes a clear sense of place, a small town on the edge of a vast woods. The sense of cold comes through bitingly, and things feel ragged and lived-in. It's too bad Pront couldn't have been a little more creative with the various treks and chases through the woods; many of the shots are too shaky and/or too dark. But Coster-Waldau plays Rayburn with an appealing mix of intrepid goodness and rage and self-loathing.

Meanwhile, Wallis' Alice must deal with general mistrust from her community -- she stops to remove a defaced election sign from her campaign -- as well as her connection to (and protection of) her troublesome brother. She makes iffy choices but remains captivating. Other characters similarly spring to life, and an underlying tension between Whites and Native Americans living in the same community deepens the mood. The mystery story in The Silencing doesn't quite click together as neatly as you might hope; it relies on red herrings and marginal characters. But the writing is still fairly strong, with some smart twists and dialogue. All in all, it's not a mind-blowing movie, but it's sufficiently entertaining.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Silencing's violence. How did it all make you feel? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How are alcohol and drinking depicted? Are they glamorized? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?

  • Some of the characters take the law into their own hands to achieve "justice." Is this fair? Should we always rely on the authorities? Who decides if and when a line is crossed?

  • How are Native American characters depicted? Are there stereotypes? What is the relationship like between them and the White characters?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills and drama

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