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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Review: Silhouette

Director: Mitch McLeod
Screenplay: Mitch McLeod
Year: 2019

Synopsis: Silhouette is the story of Jack and Amanda Harms who, after the passing of their young daughter, set out into seclusion to begin their lives anew. Quickly upon their arrival, things go awry when the sins of their past come back to haunt them.

“Silhouette” is the third full-length film from director Mitch McLeod, preceded by "Novella" and "Arc". In this instance, the director and screenwriter decides to put us in a vortex of emotions feed by topics as sensitive as the passing of a son and the sequels this loss can leave in a person's life.

“Silhouette” shows the story of a couple, Jack and Amanda, while they are grieving after losing their daughter. As the movie proceeds, more details about the event are revealed and the reason why their marriage has suffered so much for it. The way in which the screenplay is constructed is very effective in making the viewer understand what the protagonists feel and what they are going through. Each scene is full of emotions and they all put you a little deeper into what the protagonists feel.

The script has plenty of importance in making the viewer feel the sorrow this couple feel, but it's April Hartman (“Howlers”) in her interpretation of Amanda who really manages to transport this feeling through the screen. This movie has already won some awards in independent movie festivals, which includes best actress for Hartman, and rightfully so. It’s impossible to not feel Amanda's pain with this incredible interpretation. Good things await this actress if she keeps performing the way she did here. I don't want to minimize the work of the rest of the cast, Tom Zembrod ("From the Dark") as Jack and Jessica Dawn Willis ("Willow") as Dawn do a great job, but Hartman stands out easily.

Besides the grieving process and the couple dynamic after a loss of this kind, the topic of mental health is explored in detail. Conveniently for the plot, once Jack decides to move with his wife to a new place to have a fresh start, she stops going to her psychological therapies. This is not an easy-to-catch detail, but of great importance, as from this moment, Amanda’s mental health free falls towards madness. Amanda starts suffering from horrifying hallucinations that intensify as time passes (greatly brought in with the disturbing sound of a ticking wall clock), accentuated by her husband’s behavior which grows increasingly distant.

This movie was made with a modest budget of $25,000. The quality of the final product does not suggest a budget so tight. Although some details like not having many characters or limited scenography can indicate this, the technical prowess makes it look like a movie with a way higher budget. My only critique is that in some scenes the lighting is so dim that it makes it difficult to figure out what is happening, but I understand the reason for this.

“Silhouette” is a frenetic ride towards the madness of a couple after losing a son. How mental health is explored after a traumatic event made me recall “Jacob’s Ladder” and I would not be surprised if this was one of its influences. The story is developed slowly but steady and when you are ready for it to get terrifying, it delivers. The ending is surprising and makes great justice to an interesting and well-developed story.

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