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Film / The Silence (2019)

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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:

  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: No vesps of course, but Movile Cave in Romania was cut off from the outside world for millions of years, and has developed a thriving ecosystem entirely different from that on the surface.
  • 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.
  • 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 Damn Villains: A indirect case, one of the vesps indirectly saves Jude from being bitten by a rattlesnake by attacking it and biting off its head.
  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 is subjected to this by a vesp.
  • Papa Wolf: When the Hushed try to kidnap his daughter as breeding stock, Hugh goes to town on their leader with the butt of his shotgun.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. When he taunts Hugh a second time with this at the climax, Hugh decides to turn the man's head to mulch with his bare hands instead.
  • 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.