Award-winning writer Micah Ranum and director Robin Pront encapsulate redemption and revenge within crime, mystery, suspense, and drama in their latest film, THE SILENCING. Its opening scenes alone are enough to pique interest, but what really keeps you engaged and guessing is its dramatic turn of events!
THE SILENCING is set in a small town and centers mostly on two complex and multilayered characters: Rayburn Swanson (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Alice Gustafson (Annabelle Wallis). It was all but implied that at one point [Rayburn] Swanson was a revered hunter; he now runs a sanctuary for wild animals. Could this be one exploration of redemption? Perhaps. Swanson had a daughter – his only child – who went missing years ago. Despite knowing and stating that the odds of her being found alive are slim, he continues to hold out hope.
[Alice] Gustafson is the newly appointed sheriff who appears to be fighting for respect in her field. That isn’t what makes her complex, though; her relationship with her brother, Brooks (Hero Fiennes Tiffin), is. These siblings are the ultimate contrast between good and bad. You literally have one sibling fighting to uphold the law while the other breaks it. Those lines are blurred when Brooks becomes the prime suspect in the kidnapping and murders of young women. This also appears to be another exploration of redemption.
Ranum did a really decent job of developing his characters. They’re complex, as we are by nature. He made you feel something for them, even if your initial feeling was that of disdain. (Here I’m referring to the murder suspect and the actual villain. In these cases, the disdain is pretty much self-explanatory). You can definitely empathize with them ⎯ Rayburn’s seemingly desolate existence; Gustafson’s unwavering loyalty to her brother; Brooks’ apparent “badness;” and even the villain. Now, I’m not saying that anyone can or should justify the villain’s actions. But, in the end, you can kind of see why he did what he did.
There were some things that I couldn’t help but wonder. For the record, these things don’t change my opinion of the movie or its characters. In fact, I think that a good movie is one that causes you to constantly analyze or think about information. I wondered what caused Swanson’s alcohol dependence. It was implied that it [his drinking] impacted his relationship with his daughter, and I wondered if he drank to suppress his guilt about that. I also wondered why Gustafson carried such guilt about what happened to Brooks, outside of the obvious. Was there more that she could’ve done to help him? Is that why she practically risked it all to protect him? Why did Swanson have a change of heart when it came to Gustafson? Could this be another exploration of redemption?
You can gather that the characters were part of what made this movie interesting. It’s true. However, the twists and turn of events is what captures your attention and keeps you engaged. You think that you have the mystery figured out; all of the evidence seems to point in one direction ⎯ like the inscription on the murder weapons. Then, there’s a turn of events; you’re trying to gather new evidence to make new predictions. It was all very well done!
Many of us are still quarantined and looking for things to pass the time. If you’re looking for a new movie to watch, and are in the mood for something that makes you think and offers suspense, mystery, and drama without feeling over-the-top or one element overpowering the others, check out THE SILENCING! It’s available in theaters, On Demand, and On Digital August 14, 2020.