The second great idea is that a mystical stone has fallen to Earth from space; a stone that has the power to transport those in grief back in time to the moment they lost a loved one and to offer them the opportunity to save their life. But caveat emptor, this power comes with tricky little ‘monkey’s paw’ kind of twist.
Of course, these two ideas converge in the muddled narrative of SILENCIO and that’s where things start to fall apart.
In the aftermath of the missile crash in the Zone of Silence, Research Scientist, James (John Noble) and his assistant Peter (Nic Jackman) are trying to recover the cobalt 57 when they stumble across the strange space stone and carry it back to their lab for tests. Weighed down by grief over the death of his daughter, her husband and his two granddaughters, James accidently touches the stone and is instantly transported back to the scene of the roadside accident that took his family’s lives where he manages to save one of the two granddaughters.
Ten years later, that granddaughter, Ana (Melina Matthews) is a Psychologist and single mother with a young son, Felix (Ian Garcia Monterrubio). One day, a regular patient, Daniel (Michel Chauvet) tells Ana that he is in communication with the dead; specifically, her sister Lisa (Lucy Paez) and that she has a message about the space stone. Meanwhile, Grandfather James is in some kind of non-specific brain sleep, but never fear, ghostly Lisa knows how to revive him, which is just as well, because nefarious forces have hired a young thug (Hoze Meléndez) to strong-arm James in order to get hold of the stone. It seems everyone wants that stone, including Peter (now played by Rupert Graves) who is still a friend of the family. And that’s just the set up!
It’s a shame that writer/director Lorena Villarreal has stuffed so many competing elements into her screenplay. Not only do they ultimately cancel each other out in terms of their struggle for screen time, but the level of exposition required to explain the convoluted supernatural and extra-terrestrial forces at work defeat even seasoned actors like Noble and Graves. In the end, the battle of ideas is won by the space stone, rendering the whole Zone of Silence story (and, for that matter, the film’s title) redundant, but by then it’s too late to re-focus us enough into the time-travel-cheating-death narrative to make the film’s ending work. This confusion in the third act is exacerbated by a sudden burst of unexpected graphic violence which seems both unnecessary and out of character with the rest of the film. Again, this is a real shame, because it eclipses the very tantalising dilemma that Villarreal presents Ana with as the story reaches is climax. It’s a great twist that’s lost in the shuffle.
To their credit, Matthews, Noble, Chauvet and Graves make as much of a fist as they can with the material they’ve got to work with, but in the end, even strong performances can’t untangle the messiness of too many ideas and not enough direction.