Troy Scoughton Sr
Troy Scoughton Sr
After the loss of most all their team, the remains of an elite group of Army Special Forces spends the night locked away within a restaurant in Mexico. The goal of the night? To stay alive and figure out just who, then what is picking them off one by one. Anyone who has seen - or is a fan - of the movies "Legion" or "Demon Knight" will feel right at home watching this indie film. Sort of. Save the similar plot arcs, "Radio Silence" deals with aliens over religious situations. And I'm not talking about illegal ones.
Other than being a straight up science fiction, or action film, "Radio Silence" also deals with how people react to extreme situations. This includes the difference between a trained individual and the average Joe. It's interesting to see how these particular characters react and interact, even if some of the presentation is completely expected and cliche - right down to the alcoholic ass-hole who does his own thing, and eventually gets himself... well... you get the idea. A told you so moment if ever there was one.
On one hand the general script here is the literal stereotype of a cliche. On the other hand, it's familiar elements do in fact, help keep it's viewers invested and watching. I am of course, writing about myself - but found that because I had a pretty good idea of where things were going, I could concentrate more on what was being shown onscreen. It's a good idea when working with next to no budget. Let the very idea of a cliche help flesh out your story. With that in mind, Troy Scoughton's film played much like a standard action movie. If you don't try and overthink things, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. Mostly... You do have to get past the technical and experience limitations - as well as the first act. More on that below.
"Radio Silence" is an indie low budget film - as I'm sure you've guessed. With that said, I never expected a million dollar rig or multi-million dollar effects. This film however, has all the hallmarks of what people consider an indie low budget movie. From script to screen and everything in between.
The idea for this film may have been done before, but is still a good one. Something becomes cliche because it's used a lot... meaning it's a good idea and everyone wants a piece. Yet it's not the story that I kept thinking about during the film. It was the darn watermark that kept appearing, and kept reminding me I was watching a film. Kind of a buzz-kill when trying to get immersed in someones movie. Note to filmmakers - put water marks at the start or end. Having them show up throughout the entire movie just ruins the viewing experience. And honestly - if someone wants to pirate your film? That won't stop them. Joking aside and moving on with the write-up.
The script issues I had were mainly in the first act, and mainly within the dialog. Attempting to fill the film with Army jargon is a great idea. It can add a realism to an extraordinary premise. Here however, a lot of it became awkward sounding and clearly hard for some of the cast to pull off. Stuttering of lines, weird sounding deliveries and awkward phrases fill this film. Especially within the first act. Having a satellite phone called a satellite phone by someone in the army is a perfect example. Although correct, it's generally called a sat-phone and sounds strange, even to myself who is a civilian, when called by it's proper handle.
Other than some of the awkward acting, "Radio Silence" used some highly unusual backing tracks when considering the scoring of the film. Some of the background score felt like it came out of an eighties arcade game. And when the score actually did fit the onscreen action, it came across as loud. I should also mention that this film is really long and feels even longer.
... and yet there is good here. There are some great scenes and even times, when the acting feels spot on. A scene during act two where a man is locked into a small office is the perfect example. This scene felt real, and it is definitely not the only one. The problem is that the acting flip-flops throughout the film. From less than stellar portrayals - to bordering excellent.
At the end of the day, this was a decent film. It was also one of those movies that gets better as it progresses. It actually was really good by the end, all things considered. If you can get past the first act, you're in for smooth sailing. By the third act, I was hooked. I mentioned above that this film felt a little long. Perhaps editing out a chunk of the first act would have helped in both length, and pushing viewers into that second act. My fear is that the casual viewer may not give "Radio Silence" the chance it deserves. They may not make it that far. If they do push on however, good things await.