It is 2045, a totalitarian regime has set in, and one ordinary man, Howard (Giacomo Melis) makes a costly decision which will come as a grave cost to him in this dark, dystopian seven minute short film.
A Story of Silence (2020), written, directed and produced by Sardinia filmmakers Mebitek and Jele Raus in Italy, is an English language horror/science fiction picture which offers a stylistic and shocking viewing experience, but doesn’t quite hit the mark in delivering on its ambitious narrative concept. Although the film received critical acclaim upon its premiere in 2020, winning awards at the Miami New Media Festival and Rome Art Week, this grim depiction of a pessimistic future provides a chilling commentary on the implication of freedom in the media, but relies on shock value and graphic violence for its main selling points.
‘Ignorance being fought with books and violence’ is the short’s accompanying slogan on the poster, offering a compelling reflection on contemporary Western societies in relation to culture, censorship and individualism. The protagonist, Howard (Melis), makes for a rather unlikeable lead through his overeating, drinking and seeming to waste his days scrolling through social media providing profane criticism. However, he is performed well by Melis, especially during the brutal interrogation/torture sequence which bleakly closes the short. His interrogator, Tyler Darden (Martin Chef), makes for an intimidating, sinister presence as he tortures Howard with no compassion or empathy, his persona downright terrifying as he smiles and hums pleasantly whilst performing the inhumane job. Chef’s performance is certainly one of the most compelling elements of the short, along with the admirable imagination on display and highly stylised filmmaking.
The short is directed with a creative flair, often implementing comic book style animation and presenting the story through title cards, orchestrated with a cold filter and fast paced editing which effectively introduces the dystopian setting. Although ambitious and intriguing, the film is often too uncoordinated with many stylistic choices creating a sense of disconnect at times when the impressive visuals sometimes become overbearing and confused. However, the ambient, cinematic score composed by Mebitek, is effective in maintain a sense of energy and curiosity as Howard is leered into a trap, working well with the action scene as he is drugged and kidnapped for interrogation.
Although A Story of Silence offers an intelligent and thought-provoking dystopian concept and strong performances, as well as a visually striking aesthetic, the short relies on shock value in its graphic violence and highly stylised presentation for its impact. This is not a film for the light hearted, but many may find enjoyment and engagement in its intriguing concept and effective blend of horror and dystopian elements.
A Story of Silence (2020) Short Film: