The Silencing – A Conditional Recommendation

If you’re struggling to find anything worth watching on Amazon’s Prime stream, you could do a lot worse than “The Silencing”.  It’s a tight little thriller about a former badass tracker whose daughter went missing a couple of years back.  Since then he has tried to become the man she wanted him to be, and remains the only man who clings to hope that she might one day be found.

And then the serial killer shows up, hunting young girls throughout the game preserve our hero protects.

And then the new Sheriff gets involved in the hunt for the killer.  A young woman, new to the job, she shows an level of insecurity that is astonishingly rare in this era of badass chiquitas that don’t need no man.  She has a few secrets of her own and does as much to hinder our hero as she does to help.

The film is lavishly shot and takes its time to establish the characters and setting, which consists of a small rural town where everybody knows everybody else’s business.  It is very much a rural noir film, with long and languid shots of gorgeous countryside, shots that lean heavily on the soundtrack to maintain the tension of the moment.  The cast of suspects is on the small side, but the clues leading up to the big reveal are there, and make the ‘whodunit’ aspect of the film satisfying.

It’s not perfect, with characters committing some questionable mistakes and a few jarring moments of treachery.  Those moments come so unexpectedly that maybe they help establish the high stakes and knock the viewer out of any comfort zone brought on by the lush visuals.  Naturally, it sticks to the tired modernist notion that every hero is just a bad person who struggles with his own selfishness.  (External dangers have to be coupled with internal demons in everything these days for some literally God-forsaken reason.)  Despite these quibbles, it remains a nice way to kill an evening.