Silencio Movie Review
Written by Greg Fisher
Released by Barraca Producciones
Written and directed by Lorena Villareal
2018, 98 minutes, Rated R
Released on October 26th, 2018
John Noble as Grandfather James
Rupert Graves as Peter
Melina Matthews as Ana
Michel Chauvet as Daniel
Ian Garcia Monterrubio as Felix
Hoze Melendez as Kidnapper
The Zone of Silence, sometimes referred to as Mexico's Bermuda triangle, is an area rich in paranormal history. Lorena Villareal's film Silencio focuses on two main aspects of the region: the total blackout of radio transmissions (hence Silence) and the strange relative frequency for meteors to crash there. Due to the latter, or as a cause for it, the place is more magnetic than anywhere else on the planet, which leads to the inciting incident for the movie. A test missile launched by the U.S. that is meant to detonate in Las Cruces Missile Testing Grounds instead is pulled to the Zone of Silence. Researcher James (John Noble) and his young associate Peter (Rupert Graves) are two of many sent by the President to cleanup the blunder. Radioactive liquid from the missile drips onto one of the old meteor rocks, and when James touches it, he and Peter are instantly sent back a week in time. Not so coincidentally, they arrive just in time to prevent the death of James' granddaughter, who had died in a car accident with her whole family. Jump forward twenty years, and someone is threatening a now senile James to give them the rock. We find out who and for what purpose as we follow James' now grown granddaughter Ana as she searches for clues in her past and unravels the mystery of the Zona de Silencio.
If this seems like there is plenty going on with this description, there is, and plenty has been left out. Lorena Villareal weaves a dense tale as far as plot is concerned. At times the viewer almost needs a roadmap, or at least a detailed, bulleted spreadsheet to follow the rules of the movie, especially during the inevitable bad guy "this is why I am doing what I am doing" spiel at the climax. This is not necessarily detrimental, yet it broke this reviewer's link with the movie when it felt like notes needed to be taken to further understand things. Other portions seemingly make up for this as events simply occur, sometimes off screen, and the viewer needs to just go with it when it is reveled. Again, somehow, this is not overly detrimental. Perhaps, the two cancel each other out in the brain, because the movie leaves a good lasting impression, thanks to superb acting and deft directing choices.
Those that have had the pleasure of seeing John Noble, either in the cult favorite television series Fringe, in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or any of his numerous credits, know what an absolute treat he is for a viewer. He embodies his character James wholeheartedly here, able to heartbreakingly portray the deterioration of a brilliant researcher and loving family man into a confused shell of his former self. His casting was an ace in the hole, and bedrock to build off of. Melina Matthews plays a strong, multidimensional woman whose love for her grandfather and son knows no limits and allows her to do what needs to be done to come to their aid. Matthews stands toe to toe with Noble in terms of screen presence, which says quite a bit for the actress. Graves, again no slouch in terms of ability, does a fine job as well. Even child actor Ian Garcia Monterrubio does well, avoiding the curse of poor child performances that tend to hurt genre films.
These performances underscore a beautifully visual and carefully shot debut for Lorena Villareal, who also authored the script. Shots are very deliberate in what they show the audience, and help greatly to convey the story as Villareal means to tell it. She is able to be very clever with the camera while never letting the audience feel like she wants them to know how clever she is. The color pallet decisions made between different scenes give a unique and vibrant feel to each location in the movie, and slyly underscore the sentiment of given scenes without hammering the point home. Villareal and her cast and crew have done a commendable job, and viewers should be eager to see more moving forward.