Film Monthly Home
Short Takes (Archived)
Small Screen Monthly
Behind the Scenes
New on DVD
Books on Film
What's Hot at the Movies This Week
Directed by Matt Kantu, Lance KR Kawas
Written by Lance KR Kawas
Starring Scott Vickaryous, Melissa Schuman, Shanti Lowry, Peter Carey
Produced by Bob Brown
If you’re looking for a movie about the evils of abortion, you’re in the wrong place.
Despite the title, which I hope somebody knew was already taken, this particular “Silent Scream” has almost nothing to do with abortion, unless you’re one of those who considers murder an abortion, just in something like the eighty-eighth trimester. Which is what will be happening out at a psychology professor’s vacation home, way out in predictably enough the middle of nowhere. Because after all, if this were in the middle of, say, downtown Cleveland, we’d have to find a whole new set of excuses as to why the cell phones don’t work and the cops will never show up. Actually, with downtown Cleveland, that may well be excuse enough.
But anyway—jokes about Cleveland aside, we’ve got a whole bunch of vanishing psych students and a whole lot of mind manipulation going on here.
And I’ll confess. “Silent Scream” starts out like any one of a hundred others before it—horny coeds in the middle of nowhere banging each other’s brains out and then getting them cut out. Course, it really doesn’t help that the guy / girl ratio is already a lousy score—there’s about three girls shy of parity and one guy’s getting a threesome. This pretty much ensures there’s going to be problems aplenty—small wonder it’s the guys who get the first kills.
Worse yet, the effects aren’t exactly up to par, either. Check out the guy in the yellow coat taking the hatchet to the forehead from about fifty yards out. He actually reacts to it first, and then gets knocked back. He LOOKS at the damn handle in his face before getting knocked back! There needs to be a class for filmmakers called “Physics For Horror Movies” where you can learn that the force from that kind of hit would knock your character back before they could look at the handle in their head.
And yet, our parka-packin’ wonder killer here has wildly better efficiencies than Jason ever did. He racks up as many as six kills—one is unconfirmed but pretty likely—in the first fifteen minutes alone. Granted, that leaves pretty few people left to actually carry on with the last hour of the movie, but still.
Also on the plus side for “Silent Scream” is that they don’t telegraph the punch very well. With a quarter of the movie done, they’ve established at least three possible suspects for the parka killer. As an extra added attraction, the disjointed nature of the movie—normally a detriment—allows for the movie to actually proceed in waves. The students arrive in two groups, so the second set lands in the cowflop of trouble created by the first.
When I first saw the ending, I thought that it was actually going to be the worst kind of cheat imaginable. And it was almost enough to disgust me out of watching. At least, it was, until I kept watching. What they’ve actually done with the ending is a surprising form of twist ending that is very, very seldom used. In fact, the only other time I’ve seen it used was in a zombie flick, 1980’s “Nightmare City”.
The special features include audio options, English and Spanish subtitles, cast interviews, and trailers for “The Descent”, “See No Evil”, “Dark Fields”, “Zombie Nation”, and “A Dead Calling”.
All in all, despite some issues with plot and special effects work, “Silent Scream” is an excellent example of the early to mid eighties slasher movie. It adds the “two-wave” concept to the slasher genre, and this is a good addition, but the extremely rare ending is “Silent Scream”s high point, and this is enough to give it sufficient respect. “Silent Scream” will definitely be worth watching.
Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.
Got a problem? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org