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Monday, July 1, 2019

SILENT PANIC -- Movie Review by Porfle

With his second feature SILENT PANIC (2018), indie writer-director Kyle Schadt (SUNLAND) goes for an intense character-driven thriller and manages to create a flawed but fairly absorbing film.

Three friends on a camping trip in the mountains return to their car to find that someone has deposited the dead body of a young woman in the trunk during their absence. 

Bookish Dom (Jay Habre) and divorced single dad Bobby (Joseph Martinez) want to call the police and report the find, but ex-con Eagle (Sean Nateghi), convinced that this will land him back in prison, bullies the other two into staying silent while he concocts a hairbrained alternate plan.

 The first half of SILENT PANIC is just that, with the three running around in frantic indecision as they struggle to maintain in front of their increasingly suspicious wives and girlfriends, all the while clashing with each other as their continued silence on the matter makes them look ever more guilty.

This is where the film delivered pretty much what I was expecting while also revealing its shortcomings in various areas, particularly in regard to some rather iffy dialogue and acting that tends to resemble drama class exercises.

Some situations even come off as unintentionally funny in a "Dude, Why Is There A Body In My Trunk?" kind of way, as when Eagle leaves his car sitting in a bad neighborhood with the keys in it, hoping it will get stolen, and it ends up being driven around by his unsuspecting wife during a day of shopping.

Once all this stuff starts to settle down, however, the story becomes more of a downbeat character study that explores how the situation brings out the worst in these guys with desperation and self-preservation kicking in. 

So rather than building to some explosively dramatic action-suspense finale, the story becomes one of heartrending melancholy not only for the lead characters but for their innocent loved ones as well, all of whom face major life changes fraught with emotional turmoil.

The main titles sequence offers the most impressive visuals in the entire film, although Schadt manages some striking images amidst the workmanlike cinematography and occasional overuse of shaky-cam.  Something called "Field Observations" contributes an interesting musical score.

An unpolished but earnest effort, SILENT PANIC struck me as wildly uneven yet ultimately worthwhile.  The ending is abrupt in a good kind of way, leaving us to ponder what we've seen and what will come for the characters still able to pick up the pieces of their lives.

Debuts on Amazon Instant Video in July
Additional Digital HD Rollout to Follow
English / USA / 96 minutes


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