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  Silencing, The Grief In A Ghillie Suit
Year: 2020
Director: Robin Pront
Stars: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Annabelle Wallis, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Charlotte Lindsay Maron, Zahn McClarnon, Shaun Smyth, Lisa Cromarty, Leland Assinewai, Kayla Dumont, Josh Cruddas, Caleb Ellsworth-Clark, Jason Jazwary, Brielle Robillard, Melanie Scrofano
Genre: Drama, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Rayburn (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) used to be a dedicated animal hunter, indiscriminate in what he killed, but thanks to a change in circumstances, he has reformed and vowed to be kinder, looking after the creatures in the woodland sanctuary he has been employed to oversee. This means watching out for illegal hunters as much as it does taking care of the animals, but the job suits him as he spends most of his time alone, either in the cabin by the lake or doing his duties, and this also offers him the opportunity to drink alcohol to his heart's content as well. That's because there is a tragedy in Rayburn's background, where his fourteen-year-old daughter went missing and he has been obsessively using his spare time to try and find out what happened to her...

You know all those Scandinavian noir television series? Well, they made films of them as well, though technically, despite its leading man, The Silencing was not one of them, it simply looked a lot like one. This Canadian-shot combination of mystery, action and thriller had a hefty dose of morose drama involved as well, all the ingredients necessary for, say, a Norwegian-set murder yarn, though its North American locations may also remind you of those chilly and tough drama movies like Winter's Bone or Wind River which had been released in a minigenre a few years before. It did have a European director with Robin Pront, who wasn't Scandinavian but was near enough, and overall it was reminiscent of other, on occasion better productions. But this was no dead loss.

Indeed, if you wanted a basic drama-thriller with a mood of bleakness, you could do a lot worse, it was the sort of film you would describe as "solid": it didn't do anything too badly, there were some decent twists to keep your attention engaged, and the action was convincing enough without going way over the top, no matter that the premise, once we discover it, was more fanciful than realistic as to how actual serial killers go about their unlovely business. We suspect Rayburn's daughter has been murdered, with good reason, when a body of an unknown girl is washed up on the river bank, though one detail hints that with a few tweaks Pront could have moulded this into a horror flick, rather than one that gives in to the gory moments and scenes only on selected opportunities, notably at the grand finale, but also with regular injury details when the killer springs into action.

He sports a ghillie suit to both camouflage himself and preserve the identity of the bad guy so it will be a surprise come the big reveal near the conclusion, so there was a bad guy with a distinctive look about him and in keeping with the back to nature milieu. Accompanying the leading man was Annabelle Wallis as the local Sheriff Gustafson who wants to prevent more domestic abuse after a high profile case of a young boy (now Hero Fiennes Tiffin) being victimised by his foster parents has brought shame to a community already not at the most healthy level of a functioning society (just listen to the song they play for the girls to dance to in the strip club bar, which would presumably leave everyone present feeling as if they had reached a new low in their lives). So this was not going to cheer you up especially, but if misery = serious drama representing life as we know it for you, then you would get along with The Silencing easily enough, and it was slickly enough put together, with professional handsome man Coster-Waldau still a charismatic actor as his television exploits had shown off. Music by Brooke and Will Blair.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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