'The Silencing' Blu-ray
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau walks the woods in search of a killer in The Silencing - here's our review of the Blu-ray!
A reclusive former hunter (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) teams up with the local sheriff (Annabelle Wallis) to find an elusive killer stalking his victims in the local woods. Also stars Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Zahn McClarnon. Directed by Robin Pront.
The Silencing is a solid crime thriller highlighted by excellent performances from Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Annabelle Wallis. This modestly-budgeted whodunnit is a surprisingly riveting mystery with a unique identity.
On the surface, The Silencing may seem like a standard murder mystery, but it offers some interesting wrinkles. Even so, there are some familiar cinematic tropes here, including a loner leading man driven to isolation (and alcohol) because of a past tragedy. This time, it’s Game of Thrones alum Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, a former hunter who now runs a remote wildlife preserve. There’s also the dutiful sheriff, played by Annabelle Wallis (The Mummy).
The familiarities end there, however, as the screenplay by Micah Ranum offers an original take on the crime thriller/mystery genre.
When a young woman is found murdered near a preserve, hunter-turned preservationist Rayburn Swanson (Coster-Waldau) begins to suspect a murderer is lurking in the nearby woods. Motivated by the disappearance of his daughter years before, Rayburn teams with Sheriff Gustafson (Wallis) to unravel the mystery. After another victim surfaces, and past secrets come to light, Rayburn suspects the murderer may be tied to his daughter’s disappearance.
The film manages to build a nice level of suspense, and the narrative moves briskly, as Rayburn soon gets in over his head once he gets too close to the truth.
The film’s logic stumbles at times. Characters make dumb decisions, and multiple times, you’ll wonder why someone doesn’t use a cell phone to call for help or backup. It’s all for the sake of advancing the story and building tension, and as long as you don’t question the decision-making too much, you’ll enjoy the film.
The Silencing focuses solely on Coster-Waldau to move the story along, and the film is told mostly through his eyes. Wallis, as the law enforcement figure, is both ally and foil as her subplot develops in the film’s third act, when the movie really gets going.
Because the subject matter is a missing child and young women being victimized, the film’s tone is dark, and there’s not a single moment of humor. The film’s rural setting doesn’t do much to lighten the mood. Perhaps that’s the intent: the wet, overcast bleakness of the Minnesota wilderness (although it’s actually filmed in Canada) lends itself to the dismal subject matter. To change the visuals up, however, the film smartly injects some color into certain scenes (we’ll address that later).
Even when the plot’s logic falls a bit short, the actors excel. Give credit to the cast for making the most out of their roles – it makes a good film all the more interesting. Coster-Waldau has already proven himself a capable leading man, and he carries the emotional weight of the film well. Wallis, who was so good in Peaky Blinders and Annabelle, is excellent as Sheriff Gustafson, making an often unsympathetic character relatable. Zahn McClarnon (who shined in one of my favorite shows, Longmire) makes an impact with a limited role, as one of Gustafson’s deputies.
The Silencing isn’t a great film, but it is an entertaining one. Clocking in at a sleek 94 minutes, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well the film delivers on its premise. It’s certainly worth a watch.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The Blu-ray features fantastic detail for a film that spends so much time in darkened and nighttime settings. Blacks are inky and there’s nice contrast among the shadowy greys. There are a few instances of aliasing when bright lights are introduced into darker scenes.
Director of photography Manu Dacosse smartly injects varying degrees of color as settings change. While the film’s color palette is generally muted, the woods often pop with deep, lush greens. A scene set in a local bar offers a deep purple, while other indoor scenes feature electric blues. It’s a subtle but striking approach, and the high-definition transfer renders the colors faithfully.
The 5.1 DTS-HD audio mix features some surround effects, especially in scenes set in the woods, which provides nice atmosphere. Clarity is crystal clear, and there’s good nuance in the channel separation.
Bonus features are scarce. We get a couple of featurettes, which are interesting and informative, but there isn’t much more beyond that.
The special features are as follows:
Making “The Silencing” Featurette. Members of the cast and crew discuss the making of the film, alongside some behind-the-scenes footage. Director Robin Pront, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Annabelle Wallis are among the cast and crew that participate. Running Time: 14:17
“Creating a Weapon: The Silencing Spear” featurette. Producer Cybill Lui Eppich and Property Master Alex Hurter discuss the Atlatl, the “snap spear” used by the killer in the film. Running Time: 4:26
Digital Copy. A code for a digital copy of the film, redeemable through services including VUDU and FandangoNow, is included. Lionsgate codes are not redeemable through Movies Anywhere.
Release Date: September 29, 2020
Running Time: 94 minutes
Rating: R (Violence, Disturbing Images, Language)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Spanish
MSRP: Blu-ray and Digital – $21.99; DVD – $19.98