Silence & Darkness deserves praise for immersing the audience in its world, but lacks the pacing of a true thriller.
After the death of their mother, blind and deaf sisters Anna and Beth live happily in a secluded small town with Father. However, when a neighbor stops by, Anna and Beth begin to question Father’s medical diagnoses and start to realize his intentions are more sinister than they could have imagined.
The shining achievement of Silence & Darkness is the way the movie immerses the viewer in Anna and Beth’s world. I really appreciate that the production put in the work here; sign language is used to communicate throughout, and the bond between the sisters is often demonstrated through the way they use tactile sign language to communicate with each other.
This doesn’t just add to the immersiveness and authenticity of the film. It’s a reminder of how isolating and unaccomodating the world can be for people who are deaf or blind. If you don’t know sign language (as I imagine many viewers will not), you won’t always know what Anna and Beth are saying to one another. It’s a role reversal from how people who are hearing or vision impaired experience life – now you, the viewer, are the one left to piece together the details. I also loved the technical aspect of the film’s climax, which removes first the visual and then the sound, allowing the viewer to experience the pivotal scene as the sisters do.
The core trio of actors in Silence & Darkness, Mina Walker, Joan Glackin, and Jordan Lage, all play their roles well. The acting is natural and believable, and it’s great to see the way the characters progress throughout the film; Lage as he becomes more sinister and threatening in his role as Father, and Walker and Glackin as the sisters grow increasingly suspicious of him.
The biggest drawback to Silence & Darkness is its pacing. The film clocks in at only 81 minutes, but manages to feel longer. It’s full of drawn-out, lingering scenes that showcase Anna and Beth’s daily life. These moments work to let the audience get to know the girls and the way they experience life. However, they’re a drag on the story’s progression and dramatic tension. It’s difficult to make “thriller” and “slow pace” work in tandem, and Silence & Darkness doesn’t quite manage it.
Silence & Darkness: The Bottom Line
Silence & Darkness does a great job of immersing us in the world of deaf and blind sisters Anna and Beth. But while Father’s actions grow increasingly concerning, the film’s pacing undercuts some of the thrilling dramatic tension.