Movies like Sound of Silence are the reason horror is never respected as a genre, always getting snubbed out of award shows and seen as a collection of make-up and jump scares. While the genre has many masterpieces to offer, many of which were made in the last few years to prove that there are still good and original stories to be told within the horror realm, it is sadly plagued by hundreds of these cheesy flicks that all follow the same formulaic approach that results in clones of the same cheesy concept, and therefore, confirmation of the general public’s opinion of horror cinema.
An old man is busy at work in his attic fixing an old radio on a desk. It’s filled with broken things that he likes to fix as a hobby. Soon, his wife calls him for dinner, but he is focused on the old radio until it starts working again. And to his terror, he finds out that turning it on summons a spirit that tries to kill him and his wife, landing them in the hospital.
Thousands of miles away in New York, his daughter comes back home to her partner. She has had a failed audition and receives a call from her mother telling her they are in a hospital. Subsequently, she flies to Italy with Saba, her boyfriend, to join her parents. Upon arriving, her mother begs her not to spend the night at home. But of course, she ignores her warning and heads there with Saba. The old radio contains a mystery and horror that will haunt them throughout the night as they try to understand it to defeat it.
This jumbled plot appears to be a random conglomeration of horror genre tropes: haunted house, old spirits, an item that contains evil, etc. It’s all there in a mishmash that hopes to terrorize the viewers. Yet all it does is add to the mediocrity of the film. The build-up sections of the film, usually reserved for furthering the plot and explaining its details, end up being a complete bore. The viewer might painfully feel that these scenes are just a badly done parody of a hundred other better films. The climactic scenes are nothing but full of jump scares. Moreover, there are “scary” voices by haunted victims, like a poor impression of The Exorcist.
When it comes to cinematography, Sound of Silence went for a grayish palette in literally all of its scenes. Whether it’s indoors, outdoors, or in a different country…it’s all gray. A choice meant to instill feelings of fear and impending doom ends up adding to this film’s boredom fest. This seems to be a general issue with the film. When making a horror film, a director is presented with numerous options and inspirations from genre classics. However, the film’s directors chose only a few and either used them too much or too little.
Acting is an element that Sound of Silence excellently butchers. Being set in Italy, the first few scenes excited me with their “bad” acting, making me think that this would be a modern Giallo, which is a subgenre of horror cinema that spawned in Italy in the ’60s and ’70s. Giallo is characterized by many elements, one of which is a general disregard for the quality of acting in favor of gratuitous violence and gore. But I soon realized that the bad acting in Sound of Silence isn’t ironic. It is just bad. It lacks any emotion, it feels bland and tasteless. In fact, it’s ultimately one of the biggest weaknesses of a film that boasts so many.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where I would recommend Sound of Silence to anyone. It could’ve been decent with better pacing and acting and with better attention to its plot. Nevertheless, it just ends up being just a collection of jump scares separated by long, boring scenes that could challenge even the most patient of horror fans.