Directed by: #SaurabhArora
Written by: #SaurabhArora
Saurabh Arora’s Hindi-language film, The Silence Before the Storm, gets off to a strong start with its horror-inflected ambience. Unfortunately, it fails to maintain that initial high and slides quickly into mediocrity.
Resigned to spending yet another Saturday night in solitude, loner Dhanu (Jatin Gambhir), wants nothing more than to party. But more than that, he wants a friend. Following a chance encounter with his new neighbour, Akaash (Abhishek Ohri), Dhanu feels he may have found just that. And they spend the night drinking and talking about how they’ve been let down by their friends before. However, after receiving a phone call from his friends as mentioned earlier, Akaash upsets his new ‘friend’ by referring to him as “just a neighbour…” and insisting he has to leave, turning down Dhanu’s request to join him. It’s at this time that Dhanu reveals he is harbouring a dark secret.
This secret, this other side to Dhanu, is itself, an appealing idea. I’d even wager that it’s likely to take you by surprise. You can see what they were trying to achieve here (the film’s title is presumably referencing this very matter), but it just doesn’t quite pan out as it should. Mainly, I must say, due to the length of the movie. But this is the nature of indie films. You work with the restrictions placed upon you. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Getting characterisation right for films is difficult. And in short movies, in particular, it’s easy for characters to go mostly underdeveloped. Which, despite the performers’ satisfactory efforts, is precisely what we find with The Silence Before the Storm. There’s nothing extraordinary here; nothing that allows the characters – or actors, for that matter – to shine. The dialogue, for instance, is ok but adds nothing to the development of either character or their relationship. There simply isn’t enough reason to care about either of them.
The Silence Before the Storm joins the growing list of movies boasting the shot-on-iPhone pedigree. And I think it’s fair to say that it has a pronounced shot-on-phone look and feel. Whether you think this a good or bad thing will depend entirely on you as a viewer. Shooting in this way can add a lot of personality to a film. My feeling is that it doesn’t quite work here: it certainly doesn’t detract from the film, but nor does it add anything beneficial. The sound design, though, is superb and bestows the film the majority of its horror-movie atmosphere.
The Silence Before the Storm was an ambitious project, and there’s a solid attempt here at crafting something intriguing and tension-filled. And the filmmakers should be applauded for it. Ultimately though, it lacks in too many vital areas and feels far too wishy-washy to save itself from mediocrity.