Directed by: #MitchMcLeod
Written by: Mitch McLeod
A deep and affecting exploration of grief and bereavement in this indie horror film Silhouette, written and directed by Mitch McLeod. The movie is full of intoxicating dark themes and two incredible central performances.
April Hartman and Tom Zembrod play Amanda and Jack, respectively, a married couple on their way to a new secluded home where they hope to leave their traumatic past behind them. Having lost their daughter Sarah, the couple struggle to come to terms with their new life together and the #PTSD for Amanda takes a heavy and terrifying toll in the form of bizarre visions and horrific nightmares.
McLeod executes a well-crafted and controlled slow pace to Silhouette which is essential to its success. The audience needs to fully invest in the relationship of Amanda and Jack in order for the spooky goings on to hit their mark. Each character is given comprehensive development and we see their struggles from numerous angles; Tom’s supposed infidelity is explored through neighbour Dawn (Jessica Dawn Willis) as well as compelling duplicated sequences, whilst Amanda’s grip on reality is kept almost exhaustingly insular for the most part, with endless claustrophobic scenes, but also through flashbacks and surreal imagery.
It is the performances, however, which impress most. Tom Zembrod gives a worthy turn as the caring but bone-tired husband looking to find happiness for him and his wife in the gloomy aftermath of losing their daughter. His attempts to cheerily build a new life go undermined when he bares all during a brilliant bar scene. April Hartman is the knockout though. She delivers a sensational performance as the grief-stricken mother-no-more who cannot find equilibrium in a world without her daughter. The events of her past haunt her with relentless and nightmarish vigour, and Hartman captivates within this engulfing atmosphere.
For a #horror film, Silhouette isn’t attempting to subvert the genre or even bring anything particularly new to the table. Movies that combine horror techniques over a narrative about losing a child have been done, such as Pet Sematary, but here the focus is actually more on the failing marriage. The disconnect between Amanda and Jack becomes increasingly nerve wracking, with the former losing her grasp on reality and the latter succumbing to despair, and the horror trappings which ensue feel more like side-effects of their mistakes than anything supernatural or evil.
Aside from being a little indulgent with darkness (some scenes were poorly lit) and a tad long in the running time, Silhouette is an emotionally gripping story that intelligently explores the effect of grief and tragedy on a relationship.