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Silent Scream
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Silent Scream (1980)

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Plot Summary:
"Scotty moves into Mrs. Engels' seaside mansion where three other college students are boarding. Mrs. Engels prefers to stay in her room in the attic, but her son Mason helps the students get settled. Soon one of the students is killed. The policemen on the case begin uncovering the Engels family secret as the remaining students become endangered."

Reviewer: Josh Winning @horrorasylum
Review Date: 31 October 2001 My Rating: out of 5


# What an odd little film this is. In an intriguing mix of Friday the th-esque gore and Hitchcock-ian murder mystery, Silent Scream is a movie that came just a year after the success of Halloween and seems to have been completely forgotten by everyone since then. It's a shame, considering how charming and genuinely entertaining this independent film is!

Silent Scream opens with a stylish, slow-motion montage in which two cops break into a creepy-looking Victorian house, and ascend through the house into the attic where three bodies (their faces hidden) are discovered in pools of blood. This clever little scene both sets up the mood of the movie - one that is oppressive and gloomy to say the least - and also makes a clever link to the end of the movie where we discover just who these dead bodies were and how they came to be how they are.

Denny Harris' direction immediately creates an offbeat and dark atmosphere that grips the viewer tightly right from the opening credits. At times his camera angles are a little dull, and some creative flair in that department would have definitely benefited the movie. He does a good enough job with what restrictions there no-doubt were in the early eighties, but sometimes scenes tend to drag on more than they should because of the boring angles. This is only one bad aspect, however, for Harris expertly creates suspense. Many shots in Silent Scream are long and lingering, giving a sense of quiet tension, and a segment in which Scotty ascends a dark, winding staircase is particularly effective as the suspense is cranked up with a disturbing resolution.

The revelation itself is somewhat bizarre, but works surprisingly well and leads to a shocking climax which is almost unbearably filled with tension as a whole family of psychotics descend on their victims.

Silent Scream's weak point is its script, which is filled with cheesy dialogue and only just manages to squeeze out a couple of sharp-witted one-liners. It seems that the writers were really just building up for the big climax (which, granted, was executed effectively) and everything that occurs before it is incidental. Characters are all two-dimensional and the audience hardly has a chance to get to know them before they are spraying blood all over the screen - although surprisingly Silent Scream has a respectively small body count. Thankfully, this is made up for in the strong heroine that is Scotty Parker, played excellently by Rebecca Balding who gave her character a quiet intensity and strongness reminiscent in the later heroines of the 's.

Not the classic it could have been, but still a creepy and compulsive picture, Silent Scream is an interesting movie that has sprinkles of Hitchcock-ian influence running through it. Silent Scream is one to see if only to say you've seen it.

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