There comes a moment in many a thriller when the villain, caught redheaded and/or redhanded, says the following.
“It’s not what you think. I can explain everything.”
In “Silencio,” both those statements are a lie. We’ve thought out and figured out the big surprise 45 minutes ago. And no amount of explaining would fix the obvious.
A sci-fi/ghost story mashup, it’s got nonsensical science, unemotional actors and direction that can’t be called that in any meaningful sense of the word. It’s head-slappingly stupid, a waste of time and scenery and an embarrassment to all concerned.
The “inspired by true events” story was inspired by an alleged radio/cell-phone dead zone in the central Mexican desert, a “zone of silence” corresponding with the landing place of the Allende meteorite (1969), “the most studied meteorite in history,” according to Wikipedia.
A U.S. missile accidentally crashed there, in the Mapimí Silent Zone in 1970, when our fictional story begins. The team investigating the crash is led by Dr. White (veteran Australian character actor John Noble of TV’s “Legends of Tomorrow” and “Elementary”).
The cobalt in the middle gets mixed up with the metal from the meteorite, and next think you know, the scientist and his associate are transported to another part of the desert, just in time to interfere in the car crash that killed Dr. White’s son, daughter in law and grandchildren.
His granddaughter Ana survives in this version of events, raised by Grandpa, who lives with her after she grows up to become a psychiatrist in something like modern day Mexico.
I say “something like,” because you and I can do the math. Melina Matthews of “Megan Leavey” plays adult Ana. She’d have to be in her mid-50s, and looks not a day over 40, with a little boy who could not be over four.
Grandpa has dementia, but by coincidence Ana is treating a clairvoyant who sees ghosts. His name is Daniel (Michel Chauvet), and he warns Ana, Whoopi Goldberg in “Ghost” style. “You’re in danger” girl. As we’ve seen that the only other person to have touched the contaminated stone from the crash site was a tiny boy named Daniel 48 years ago, we take him seriously.
Ana? She throws her education, child of science background out the window and swallows his tale whole. She’s to repeat numbers to her grandfather which will end his dementia, if only briefly. He has to track down the magical stone from way back when in a matter of hours.
Because other people are looking for it, too.
Rupert Graves, playing Dr. White’s former assistant now sentenced to a life of giving half-finished lectures on the “science” of the “zone of silence,” sums up the mystery and the movie he cashed a check for in a single sentence.
“We’ve never made sense of it.”
Writer-director Lorena Villareal hasn’t made a second film since her 2004 debut “Las Lloronas,” a version of a famous Mexican ghost story about “The Weeping Woman.” Coincidentally, there’s another movie about “La Llorona” coming out shortly.
As for this one, 14 years after Villareal’s first, you’d think she’d have mastered the art of creating suspense, pressed upon her actors the need to grieve when a character’s loved one dies, learned where to edit (the takes seem to start just before “action” and end just after “cut”).
It’s entirely too much to expect her to do the math (The movie could be set a few years ago, judging from some of the cars and the cell phone), or learn the difference between a tortoise and a turtle. She made her characters scientists and doctors, after all.
Yeah, it’s that incompetent.
MPAA Rating: R for some violence
Cast: Melina Matthews, John Noble, Rupert Graves
Credits: Written and directed by Lorena Villarreal. A Tulip Pictures release.
Running time: 1:38