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Silent Scream
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by Jack Sommersby

"This 'Scream' Elicits Yawns"
2 stars

Derivative and vapid, it's one of those unremarkable flicks easily forgotten two minutes after the ending credits start to roll.

The beautiful Rebecca Balding displays gorgeous auburn hair and a killer bare midriff in the horror movie Silent Scream, and also a good deal of acting talent, which certainly doesn't hurt. Playing college student Scotty Parker, a college student who rents a room in an oceanside California house that gives way to suspicious goings-on, Balding, in her first starring role, is emotionally lucid and gets a real rapport going with the audience -- we immediately yield to her from the onset: with a face the camera absolutely adores and an appealing demeanor, we want to know more about Scotty and spend more screen time with Balding. And with a passable first half, we're inclined to give the movie the benefit of the doubt despite it not being particularly scary. The story is as bare-bones as you can get: Scotty and three other students renting rooms in the house are systematically picked off one by one by an unseen assailant. The first victim is viciously stabbed while passed out on the beach, and the second in the laundry facility in the basement while Scotty and the other student are making noisy passionate love two floors above -- the director, Denny Harris, making his debut, isn't exactly one for subtlety in inner-cutting the couple's orgiastic cries with each slashing of the knife, but otherwise displays a clean unobtrusive visual style with fairly agile camera movements. If anything, Silent Scream is a bit too cleanly made. It lacks atmosphere and tension, and goes right off the cliff the last thirty minutes in revealing the culprit behind the killings (when the owner's dork of a son tells the police his sister Victoria doesn't live there anymore, a mental alarm goes off in our heads) who's about as frightening as a fly on your drinking glass. Like the even-worse The Unseen, a mentally-impaired character is thrown in for cheap effect, and the fact that the screenwriters can't even ground this in psychiatric realm (someone who's been lobotomized to neutralize their suicidal tendencies is more likely to spend their time blankly staring at a television rather than butchering non-threatening people) makes their exploitive crudeness even more contemptible. A shame, really, because Harris demonstrates competence, Balding is consistently watchable, and those B-movie over-actors Avery Schreiber and Cameron Mitchell (as the detectives working the case) are unusually restrained. Silent Scream has a neat title but a truly embarrassing follow-through.

Check out Balding in a better horror picture, "The Boogens."

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=25083&reviewer=327
originally posted: 04/12/13 08:58:18
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  30-Jan-1980 (R)
  DVD: 23-Nov-2009



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