Silence & Darkness

Review of Silence and Darkness
Silence & Darkness comes from debut feature film writer and director Barak Barkan and follows blind and deaf sisters, Anna and Beth who live with their father in a secluded small town. What would appear to be a quiet and calm setting — quickly turns vile, isolated, and suffocating. The film features a limited cast and set, but it is the story that unravels in Silence & Darkness is filled with fear and resilience that stays with you past its runtime.

Communication: From the very first frame, we are introduced to the most improbable close-knit sisters sharing their language with us. Beth being deaf and Anna being blind provides a fascinating layer of dialogue in the film. We don't get captions, which means we need to follow their body language and facial expressions to understand their emotions. These moments not only take a set of great actresses, but it also expects a competent audience. It demands attention and inference.

Film Still from Silence & Darkness (2020)

Madness: Silence and Darkness is a slow burn film; even at its short runtime. You must accept the rate at which the story is told. If you are able to do so, then you’ll slip into an encapsulating madness that holds you down. Early on in the first act, there are suggestions of a horror plot that's easily dismissed. But once the second act reaches its climax, you are thrust into a torturous sequence of events. There were glimpses of subtle inspiration from Thoroughbreds from time to time. It is a very different film, but the atmosphere is eerily similar with equally driven female leads. The film almost exclusively is located in just one place — the home of the father and the girls. This creates an even more isolated aspect to the viewer. Limiting the location would normally hinder a film with such low production in terms of budget, location, equipment, crew, but, anchored by its two lead sisters — Silence and Darkness has no use for a bigger world.

Film Still from Silence & Darkness (2020)

Don’t Look Too Deep: Outside of the two lead sisters, there is a void of acting strength in Silence and Darkness. Most moments outside of the two lead characters engaging seem forced and unnatural. It can be too scripted at times. The film is also lacking creativity in camera placement and cinematography, but there's a strong intention to the weak aspects of the film, which saves it from further criticism.

Silence and Darkness is a chilling and draining film.
Easily one of the best small-scale story movies produced recently.