Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Silence (2019)

Go To

The Silence is a 2019 Netflix original horror movie adapted from a 2015 novel of the same name by Tim Lebbon. Its premise is that a spelunking expedition in Pennsylvania accidentally releases a tremendous swarm of monsters resembling eyeless crosses between bats and pterosaurs, later named vesps, that hunt exclusively by sound, which swiftly overrun a large portion of the North American continent.

The movie itself follows the deaf 16-year-old Ally Andrews and her family — her father Hugh, her mother Kelly, her younger brother Jude, her grandmother Lynn and her father's childhood friend Glenn — who are forced to flee from their home in search of safety while avoiding both vesp swarms and ill-intentioned humans.

Not to be confused with the 1963 Swedish movie Tystnaden, translated in English as The Silence, or for the 2016 Martin Scorsese film Silence.

This movie provides examples of:

  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: The vesps seem more motivated by spite than hunger. If it makes noise, they'll dive on it — and in many cases then abandon it.
  • Batman Gambit: The cultists send in a young girl with mobiles set to alarm strapped to her body, to serve as a distraction and to draw the vesps when the alarms go off. Another mobile is strapped to the window of Ally's room, so the vesp will break in there. This causes Ally to flee to the basement where the cultists are waiting to kidnap her.
  • Battle in the Rain: The final fight takes place in a thunderstorm, as it's the only way they can have a fight without the vesps mauling them all to death.
  • Big Honking Traffic Jam: Causing Glenn to turn off the highway and trailblaze with his SUV before the vesps show up to see who's honking. Unfortunately a herd of deer cause him to go off the road and crash.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The vesps have frighteningly sensitive hearing, and can home in on even the faintest noises — but they have seemingly no senses besides that, not even smell or echolocation, leaving them utterly unable to perceive potential prey or threats standing just feet away from them as long as they're quiet. Further, their absolute reliance on hearing leaves them very vulnerable to loud, omnipresent noises such as fire alarms or thunder, and makes them easy to lure into noisy deathtraps.
  • Cult: The Hushed, a doomsday Christian cult that believes the vesps to be a punishment from God unto a sinful world and that ritualistically removes its members' tongues.
  • Cacophony Cover Up: One that serves as a Chekhov's Gun for the Battle in the Rain, when Hugh and Ally set off the sprinkler system in the pharmacy to escape the vesps nesting there.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The girl sent in as a Trojan Prisoner has mobile phones strapped to her like a suicide bomb vest.
  • Dug Too Deep: The vesps are released into the world when a spelunking team, while pushing deep into their cave, digs away a rockfall that had sealed the chamber where they had lived for millions of years.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Subverted; the protagonists go Oop North because the vesps don't like the cold, but Ally thinks that they might adapt. We then see a vesp flying across a land covered in patches of snow and landing on a dead animal filled with vesp eggs...only to get shot by an arrow fired by Ally and her boyfriend. Ally then says they'll just have to adapt as well.
  • Eyeless Face: Vesps have no eyes whatsoever — their heads rise into a smooth, unbroken bony slope above their nostrils.
  • Eye Scream: One of the victims in the movie is subject to this when a vesp jabs its claws into her eye sockets as it proceeds to lift her up.
  • Explosive Breeder: Evidently by their sheer numbers. Being egg-layers probably helps.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: The vesps incubate their eggs in the corpses of people and animals they've killed.
  • Faceless Goons: Most of the Hushed have their heads covered by hoodies, and only a few of them (most notably their leader) have their faces exposed.
  • Go Look At The Distraction: Hugh lures a vesp off the car by throwing a crowbar down the road.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Glenn, having been trapped under his wrecked car and knowing he's a goner, gives his life to lure a vesp swarm to himself with gunshots to give the other characters a chance to escape.
    • Lynn sacrifices herself by screaming while entangled with the Hushed cultists trying to kidnap her granddaughter, calling down a flock of vesps to kill them alongside herself.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The Hushed appear in the third act to terrorize the family and try to steal Ally to use as breeding stock.
  • It Can Think: Ally notes the vesps attack the same area of the car windows in an attempt to break through them.
  • Kill It with Ice: The vesps can't handle the cold very well at all — people above the Arctic Circle or high in the mountains are spared due to this, as the intense cold kills any vesp swarms heading too far north or too high up. However Ally wonders if they might eventually adapt to the cold.
  • Like a Duck Takes to Water: Before the vesps appear Ally's mother and father are reluctant to let her go out and do what she wants, but she now finds herself living in a world where silence is a virtue.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Hugh kills a swarm of vesps by luring them into an active woodchipper with the blades' noise, quickly turning the entire swarm into a pile of ground meat. They eventually clog the machine through sheer numbers.
  • Mama Bear: After her daughter is injured and her granddaughter kidnapped, Lynn races after the cultists to take them on with her bare hands.
  • More Predators Than Prey: Who knows what the vesps were eating before coming to the surface, since they come from an environment already very well known for a distinct lack of biomass.
  • Off with His Head!: A rattlesnake gets its head bitten off by a vesp.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Hugh is creeped out by the cult but refuses to take the shotgun when they turn up on their doorstep. When the priest writes, The girl is fertile he gets it straight away and shows he's willing to fire regardless of drawing the vesps. When they later try kidnapping her, he beats the priest to death with the shotgun butt.
    • Downplayed earlier when Hugh finds out there's a boy at school showing an interest in Ally. While her mother isn't happy, he asks some polite questions about him and takes it as a good sign that he's taken the trouble to learn ASL in order to talk to her.
  • Saying Too Much: Or in this case 'signing' too much. When Ally signs He's weird to her father, it tips off the priest that she knows sign language and therefore would be very useful to The Hushed.
  • Sense-Impaired Monster: The vesps are completely eyeless, and hunt by sound; any noise made in their presence will send swarms of the creatures homing in to devour whatever alerted them, forcing people to maintain near-total silence in areas where vesps have moved in. However, their complete reliance on hearing means that they cannot perceive anything that keeps quiet, and makes them vulnerable to both omnipresent noises such as fire alarms or thunder and to noisy traps.
  • Shoot the Dog: Hugh lets the family dog out of the car because his barking attracted the vesps and will again as soon as they finish off Glenn, even though it means the dog is going to be their next meal. Whether this is better or worse than in the original novel, when Hugh strangles the dog inside the car rather than let it keep barking or risk opening the car door, is debatable.
  • The Swarm: Vesps always move in large groups, hunting and killing with a seemingly single-minded purpose.
  • Trojan Horse: The Hushed send a little girl to the family's shelter with phones strapped to her body, which are set to activate their alarms not long after the family brings her in.
  • Villainous Rescue: One of the vesps indirectly saves Jude from being bitten by a rattlesnake by attacking it and biting off its head.
  • Wham Line: The Hushed were already creepy enough with their leader pulling a Stealth Hi/Bye on Hugh a couple of scenes before, but the moment they arrive to the house and the leader asks in writing if Ally is fertile, Hugh instantly knows that this won't end well.
  • Wicked Wasps: While not wasps themselves, the monsters are explicitly likened to them due to their swarming and their aggressive natures, and are named vesps after vespa, the Italian word for wasp. They are also egg-layers, depositing their eggs on corpses.
  • The World's Expert (on Getting Killed): Glenn the tough guy and survivalist is the first to bite it, thanks to an unfortunately timed herd of deer crossing the road which make him crash his SUV.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The girl sent into the house by the Hushed has had her tongue cut out (and from the bruises on her jaw, it wasn't willingly) and is used as The Bait to draw the vesps into the house. If the protagonists hadn't had the decency to remove the mobiles instead of just running for their lives, she would have died horribly.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: The leader of the Hushed isn't concerned when Hugh levels a shotgun at him, being just as aware as Hugh that the noise would get both of them killed. Unfortunately he's threatened Hugh's daughter, so when the priest takes a step towards Hugh, he pulls back a hammer on the shotgun to show he's willing to take that risk. When he taunts Hugh a second time with this at the climax, Hugh decides to turn the man's head to mulch with the butt of his shotgun.
  • Zerg Rush: While individual vesps are hardly harmless, they can still be dealt with easily enough with a distraction or taken out with a single gunshot. The problem is that they almost always attack in huge swarms, overwhelming their prey with unrelenting attacks from every direction and by their ability to soak up enormous losses with minimal impact on their total numbers.