20th Jan2021

‘Silence and Darkness’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Mina Walker, Joan Glackin, Jordan Lage, Sandra Gartner, Ariel Zevon | Written and Directed by Barak Barkan

The horror genre has actually got a fairly decent history of using disabilities in its movie in a positive way. There are of course plenty of bad examples but there are also films like Hush, A Quiet Place and Ropes. Silence and Darkness deals with a family that involves a father who has a deaf daughter and a blind daughter and shows us how they live there lives.

The sisters relationship is a huge part of the story and it’s both brilliant and fascinating. Personally, the use of sign language always draws me into a movie, I know a little sign language myself and I know how important it is and I love to see it used prominently in a film. Here the sisters, Anna and Beth, show a special bond that includes a sign language that also uses touch and we see that they rely on each other every day. That’s not to say they can’t do things alone, the movie makes this clear. But they are stronger as a team. And this relationship between them is what helps them discover the problems in their lives and how they will get through them.

Because of the use of sign language, we get some really interesting and unusual camera shots at ‘hand height’. We don’t necessarily need to see mouths for the conversation (although facial expressions are sometimes needed), it is often much more important to see the hand movement and how the sisters are interacting that way. Because these characters are the centre of the story, the film is also quieter than normal and it’s noticeable. The director using this near silence to build a strange sort of tension and tone throughout the movie. There’s scenes that linger and seem t go on longer than they should. The almost depressing tone is something that many high profile horror movies use at the moment but it does work for Silence and Darkness.

The cinematography is excellent, with a great use of the location. Mountain tops, forest and the wintery weather are all used to maximum effect. It’s a truly beautiful movie to watch.

I’m usually all for shorter movies but at less than eighty minutes long I actually would have liked to have seen more. Of course, not every movie has to be three hours but there are a few parts of the story here that I would have liked to seen expanded on. None more so than the father’s story and past. Possibly the mother and her relationship with the daughters too. I can understand why all the focus is on Anna and Beth, so this isn’t a major complaint.

Everything is wrapped up very nicely in the final scenes and we do get what you could just about call a happy ending. Mina Walker (Anna) and Joan Glackin (Beth) are both exceptional in the lead roles. Without their chemistry, closeness, and excellent performances, this movie isn’t what it is. But with it, and début director Barak Barkan’s vision this is a creepy, at times tense, and fascinating movie. The type of which you will see very little of this or any year. I highly recommend it.

**** 4/5

Silence and Darkness is now available on VOD/Digital in the U.S. and Canada on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, as well as Direct TV, Dish Network, Vubiquity, and Deluxe Canada.

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