The Silence (2019)

It was only a matter of time until studios would come along and start trying to duplicate the formula that “A Quiet Place” perfected. Hoping to strike lightning twice after the shocking pop culture success of “The Birdbox,” Netflix adapts yet another novel in to an apocalyptic thriller featuring monsters working on human senses, and a family trying to stick together, doggone it. And it stinks. Director John R. Leonetti’s horror drama has a good idea somewhere buried beneath this hacky often mean spirited mess, but damned if I could find out how to salvage it.

After a mining crew accidentally unearths an ancient breed of ravenous bats that can hunt and detect prey with sound, mankind is overtaken by the monstrous xenomorphesque monsters known as “vesps” that soon become the dominant species. Hoping to find a safe haven, a family and their young deaf daughter Ally (“The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s” Kiernan Shipka), travels across the country hoping to find help, and answers. All the while they come across your run of the mill apocalyptic pit falls including your patented religious cult. “The Silence” is a mess from beginning to end filled with plot holes, weird plot contrivances and characters that are so poorly developed.

The movie also commits the crime of Chekhov’s gun, foreshadowing to a climactic event that absolutely never happens. Leonetti almost seems to have a good time alluding to certain events that we think may happen and just never do. It even kills off the most interesting characters before the second half is even introduced. While it might be great to a narrative zig when we think it’s going to zag, much of the plot elements and set up are all just so half baked and undercooked. The set up is decent enough, but there isn’t a lot of rhyme or reason to everything.

Why is Ally being deaf so important? What is her accident alluding toward? What did the bats feed on before they were unleashed? Where did they come from? And what the hell is even the point of the final half involving a mysterious, albeit incredibly clumsily written, religious cult? What did anything have to do with this scenario involving survival? Nothing makes even the slightest bit of sense, and often times the screenplay seemed to watch like it was throwing whatever it could at the wall and seeing if it stuck.

The final half watches like the writers ran out of material, and just dropped some cliché plot twist on to our laps without any interesting turn of events. Everyone but Ally are boring and cardboard, including Stanley Tucci’s character, who has the most room to develop in to a hero, but never quite does. “The Silence” is barely a solid monster movie. Despite Shipka, and co-stars Stanley Tucci, and Miranda Otto doing their best with so little, “The Silence” is a clumsy, silly, and often sadistic apocalyptic thriller that props up a big premise and does nothing with it.

Now Streaming on Netflix.