A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Silencing is a solid crime drama about a grieving, obsessed father (Game of Thrones' Nikolaj 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.
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 ...
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?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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