In a lot of ways "Silhouette" is the perfect example, of the movie tropes we've all come to love in a potentially supernatural story. A tragic loss. A move. A less than ideal family. A ghost, or perhaps simply a case of madness? Have I pretty much summed up a massive chunk of supernatural thrillers - ghost stories or demonic adventures? The truth is that it's damn near impossible to tell such a story without one of the above cliche elements. Right? The bigger truth? We love it! All of it. We expect a certain amount of cliche with our horror/thrillers. If none exists, nothing familiar alongside the unexplained onscreen happenings... we are easily lost. Or put off even. Many of us can bitch about lack of originality but the truth is this. Without an unoriginal aspect to relate with, most movies would simply suck. It's all so hard to explain but the closest I way I can think of? Nostalgia. It's almost like a different spin on the same feeling. And it's needed. At least for me.
So what does that leave? How do you take the expected, familiar theme and make it your own? You do it well. You do it in a clever way. You add your own slightly original spin - and grab the best actors and musical talent you can find. Much like Mitch McLeod did with this film. If this genre is your bag of nuts, you'll have no problem enjoying this creepy adventure. Everything a horror/thriller needs to be successful is represented here - and represented well.
Amanda Harms is your typical grief stricken woman of the genre. Understandably grieving and medicated, she doesn't seem to be healing after the loss of her daughter. She can't seem to forgive her less than perfect husband Jack, who's inability to be a faithful husband, causes his absence during their daughters passing. Clearly this wasn't a perfect marriage before their horrendous loss. Now however, even though the couple are trying to patch things up, things are just not looking good.
It's when Amanda begins seeing things. Ghosts... for lack of a better word, and also begins to completely lose touch with reality in Jack's eyes, that something finally tips. "Silhouette" is essentially the story of Amanda's haunting. Sure. Jack's story and situation is also presented, but Amanda is the true location of the lens. As viewers, we see what she sees and let me tell you... sometimes it's scary as hell. But is "Silhouette" really a story of a ghost or demon? Or simply a visual journey into the madness the mind can create? That's what you, the viewer, will have to find out. And it's one hell of a journey.
I'm sure you're asking yourself why, if I liked this film so much, I've not awarded it a four or four and a half stars? The answer is both simple and complex - and I'll get to it shortly but for now, let me write about what I loved. The acting and the scoring.
The performances in "Silhouette" are excellent. Sometimes brilliant even. Our leading couple both, simply ooze these characters from their very pores. Tom Zembrod plays the not perfect, only human husband with the perfect amount of anger, grief and guilt. There's no cheese-ing his way through the script. His character is completely believable. As for Amanda, played by April Hartman? Let me just say there are scenes in this film where she completely captures your attention. There's simply no looking away.
The supporting cast also, hold their weight and nobody ever seemed to vanish from any scene. The truth is that "Silhouette" has scenes containing some of the best micro budget acting I've seen. At times there would be no problem, going head to head with some A list performances I've witnessed. The cast easily adds credibility to this film. No question.
The other aspect worth singling out is the scoring. The sound design here is fantastic. Aside from writing that, there's no other way to describe audio except to say go and listen for yourself. How about the other production elements you ask? "Silhouette" contains some great visual work, some excellent visual effects and is overall a good idea produced in a good way.
So what, in my humble opinion, held this movie back a little? It was the length. Or, perhaps the choice of some of the edits left in. The hardest thing about being independent - is the very same thing that makes an indie appealing. The creative control. But sometimes, just because you can... doesn't mean you should. "Silhouette" suffers slightly from at times, a very long winded approach. A cut of as little as ten minutes, maybe up to even fifteen or twenty minutes, could have scored this film an extra half star. Again, in my opinion.
I get it. You've poured your heart into every scene. You've paid for it both in cash and time... and you want it in there! You know what? Put it in! You did put in the effort and it should be seen. But maybe... it should all be showcased in an extended version or directors cut. There are more than a few places in this movie, I felt it dragged a little. Without pointing out each and every one, I'll give one example at the start of the film.
Jack and Amanda are driving, starting their new life. A brief conversation occurs. When writing this, such a scene makes perfect sense. Or does it? A minute or so could have been cut right here. There was no need for the conversation - since it's explained again in another scene. And implied in yet another... and so on. Add to that, that particular scene wasn't flattering to the film. Car interior shots, when driving, can become jittery and jumpy. And this scene is no exception. Since this entire conversation is summed up again later - and it didn't look all that great visually - compared to the bulk of the movie - why was it left in? That's just an example from the first few minutes but as someone once told me... if it's not needed or doesn't directly move the story forward... don't edit it in.
At the end of the day? This was a really good film. Scary but not terrifying. It's more or less just what you're hoping for, and can keep pace with most of it's higher budgeted counterparts. Crammed with atmosphere, excellent acting and sound, you may find it hard to believe this isn't a million dollar picture. I feel that if the masses are reached through marketing, this movie will be a smash - and I feel privileged to have gotten a look.