Tuesday, October 23, 2018

SILENCIO: Lorena Villarreal's sci-fi fantasy proves heavy on manipulation and coincidence

Most science-fiction/fantasy combos have a certain manufactured quality, with some -- if not a lot of -- coincidence tossed into their mix. SILENCIO, a new Mexico/USA co-production written and directed by Lorena Villarreal, offers perhaps more than the normal amount of both. Ms Villarreal's movie takes a few "facts" about a desert area in Mexico -- famous for the myth that no radio signals can be received there and where, in actuality, a U.S. rocket launch crashed back in 1970, releasing in the process a small amount of radioactive cobalt 57 -- and runs with them.

The filmmaker, shown at left, initially seems to cleverly weave this scenario into her tale of of a meteorite with magical powers, radioactive time travel, a family tragedy, and a handsome young fellow who sees and hears ghosts who just happens to be a patient of the pretty young therapist who is the sole survivor of that family tragedy. And that's but the beginning of all the manipulation and coincidence on hand. And an awful lots of cliché, too -- like the young child in peril who of course has asthma. (Note to filmmakers: Can you please give this one a rest?!)

So, yes: What we have here is very coincidental and also sentimental (especially the musical score by Leoncio Lara), but overall relatively fun viewing, thanks to the plotting, cinematography (Mateo Londono), and decent performances, even under some rather trying circumstances. The latter is shown us during a would-be climax/action scene in which our seeming villain manages to shoot and kill two characters while our heroine, who has a shotgun pointed right at him, just can't seen to pull the trigger.

Yes, there's a good reason for this, but the scene is staged so poorly that you may not really care much. Still, the actors -- who include John Nobel (above, right) as the grandfather/scientist, Rupert Graves (below) as a little-too-helpful friend, as Melina Matthews (two photos above) as our feisty heroine -- do what they can.  The movie also include the best performance from a very large tortoise that I have seen in many a year.

The pacing is very up and down, with the post-climax, last-quarter-hour awfully slow. That said, the actual finale may draw a surprise tear from your eye, as it did from mine. The movie may finally remind you of an after-school special crossed with an endangered family film crossed with a time-travel scenario crossed with a shoot-'e-in-the-head blood bath. Yeah, it's weird. But it almost works. Sort of.

From Tulip Pictures and Barraca Producciones, Silencio opens in theaters nationwide this Friday, October 26. Click here to find the theater(s) nearest you.

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