Nouveau Noir, I can dig it. Who killed Edgar Williams? That's what his young nephew/budding documentary filmmaker is charged with finding out, and considering he's been dead for a while now, it's not going to be easy to piece the clues together. Someone out there has been recently leaving flowers on his grave, which is creepy. The dude died in 1960, according to his gravestone, and only lived for sixteen years, but it's quite apparent that he's still on everybody's mind decades after his passing, and his memory is as fresh as ever. With his head crushed by a freight elevator, that was one freakin' short and grim life he was once leading…R.I.P.!
So off he goes to find out the answer to this sixty-year-old family mystery, and Chris Nowak is being paid handsomely by his aunt Linda to do it. With a child of his own on the way & a wife that needs the extra help around the house, it's fairly crucial that Chris moves quickly to collect his paycheck and give his aunt some peace of mind at long last. I ain't gonna lie to ya - people are strange in how/when they need closure. Me? I'd be like, the dude's been dead for sixty-some-odd years - and be over it, family or not. That being said, I recognize not everyone's like me; if there was as much mystery & uncertainty around the death of someone I loved, perhaps I'd be moved enough to investigate it too. Maybe. Chris seems like a nice enough guy, though, and I admire that he's helping out his family in several ways.
It doesn't take too long before Chris is visited by a couple of thugs, beaten on, and told to stop pokin' his nose where it doesn't belong. As defiant as he wants to be, ribs can only take so much of a beatin' last I checked…but any documentarian/journalist worth their weight in salt knows that once you start to rattle a few fences, you're actually getting somewhere. Obviously, Chris continues to try to solve the mystery & not heed the warning from the mystery henchmen, or I wouldn't be here writing a review about "Silent As The Grave," now would I? If he's not too careful, though, he's going to lose that beautiful wife of his - Naomi has precious little patience for his growing obsession with his recent detective work.
I felt like writer/director Brad Podowski did a really decent job with this film from the script to the screen, and he got a whole lot out of his main actor Michael Kunicki in how he played Chris Nowak. The shots are clean, the pieces of the puzzle are put there for us to try and figure out with Chris as he gathers the clues, and overall, "Silent As The Grave" takes the right route in its direction by keeping things mysterious - but fairly lighthearted as well. It never gets too dark - and has many moments that'll make you smile as it progresses with the right amount of humor in the mix that doesn't take anything away from the seriousness this movie needs to keep us curious. As to whether or not everything adds up without some holes in the plotline, is harder to say. About an hour and change into "Silent As The Grave," I started to wonder what the heck was going on with my math after Chris received a strange phone call out of nowhere - and hearing earlier on that Edgar was referred to as a "good man" by a fellow co-worker. If the markings on the gravestone were indeed correct, he accomplished a whole lot by the age of sixteen…which seems to be a part of the mystery that's never really acknowledged as much as you might think it would be. All-in-all, it felt like the ending worked out the kinks to a degree and filled in the details we were looking for through flashbacks & whatnot, but at the same time, it seemed like the climax of "Silent As The Grave" wasn't really the most memorable aspect of the movie.
If anything, Podowski's film is practically too balanced, and the journey to get to the big reveal is about as equally exciting as finding out the answers to the mystery you've been watching. In a way, that's a good thing, I suppose, it's consistent, but that same consistency could be seen as what might be holding "Silent As The Grave" back as well. The drama we're looking for in this mystery feels like it's missing, and I could definitely see many viewers out there needing a bit more out of the ending to "Silent As The Grave," even if it covers all the bases by answering your questions as it wraps things up. A true story inspires this film, so I think they made a conscious choice not to over-sensationalize the material, but going that route could have potentially cost them a bit of the excitement a mystery like this could generate. I feel like a solid three & a half stars is deserved. It's cohesive & consistent, and it has the benefit of a solid lead in Kunicki, but I would have liked a bit more suspense added to this mystery too.