Giving birth to her first child should be a time of happiness for Rachel, but the dream is shattered when she learns that her newborn baby has died during the night. Despite the sympathetic overtures, Rachel is convinced things aren't what they seem and suspects her baby has been abducted. Certain that there's only one way to find out the truth, Rachel returns to the hospital. Here she encounters the menacing Dennis Betts and in an attempt to flee from him, she ís forced to hide in a car belonging to Daniel Stone, a hospital porter. Initially reluctant to help, Daniel's conscience eventually gets the better of him. The plot thickens further with the death of Rachel's best friend Annie and the discovery that Dennis Betts is actually a policeman, with his own very personal reasons for pursuing Rachel. As Rachel and Daniel race through London's nightscape, desperate to stay one step ahead of Betts, every discovery unleashes further hell, extending way beyond the disappearance of Rachel's... Written by
Julian Richards' 'Silent Cry' is a well-crafted thriller shot with restraint and style. Notable cameos from the likes of Kevin Whately and Frank Finlay add depth to the proceedings, and there's a washed-out look to the colours that gives things a modern "noir" feel. The pic never outstays its welcome, being fairly tight at around 80 minutes, and has a freshness despite the fact that its roots are showing. Although many of its elements are familiar - baby-snatching, corruption in official circles, a good cop/bad cop pairing - 'Silent Cry' re-assembles the parts, gives them a good old spin and polish, and comes out seeming new.
Story focuses on Rachel Stewart, whose new born child is abducted by a sinister syndicate, and has touches of 'The Omen' and 'Rosemary's Baby', but plays for suspense instead of horror. It's grounded in realism, located in gloomy hospital corridors, anaemic blocks of flats, and in the gutter among the homeless and the wasted.
When Rachel goes "undercover" to trace those responsible for the abduction, we're almost entering 'Searchers' territory, though we don't see the same kind of righteous obsession in Rachel that we did in Ethan. Instead we just feel her awkwardness; it's almost embarrassing to see her dolled up to cruise the bars... But she's out of her depth, doesn't belong in this world. Emily Woof (as Rachel) has a waif-like quality that comes across well here. She's so frail you fear she might break.
There's a satisfying conclusion with a twist I didn't see coming (though I should have - I've seen its like before). The budding romance between Rachel and Daniel is nicely understated - saved for the future, in fact, which is just as well. It wouldn't really fit here anyway. Feminists might wonder why Rachel (who chose having her baby over keeping the man who fathered it) needs another man to help her overcome the odds, but 'Silent Cry' isn't preaching liberation; its people are rootless and alone, and in need of any kind of stability they can get.
Rachel is onscreen almost constantly, and she's emoting all the way. This seems tough on the actress, and at times becomes a little wearying to watch. Emily brings charm and vulnerability to the role, but her character is under such strain you sometimes feel she's playing it all on one note, somewhere between a cry and a whimper. She carries a strained look almost to the final frame, but we can safely assume she'll laugh later.
As her ally Daniel Stone, Doug Henshall bears the heavy-eyed stare of an overburdened nightshift worker. The first time you see him, you know here's a man who has become his job. At first this downbeat hero is reluctant to join Rachel in her search, but he later comes into his own. As a former resident of cardboard city, Daniel is in a sense searching for his own safe warm place, his own family. Unlike Emily, he doesn't really know what he's looking for until he suddenly finds it staring him in the face.
Jimmy Tibbs (Steve Sweeney) is diverting as a crazy crustie, but he also seems something of a "type", while Craig Kelly carves a little niche for himself as D.C Moseley, a character I wished we could see more of. We'll remember him though for the way he bows out
in some style. More problematic is Clive Russell's Betts,
a one-dimensional villain. Wonderfully menacing during the chase sequences (the film is loaded with chase variations), he mugs his way through everything else. I would've preferred a villain with a human streak, or at least to see a couple of cracks in his armour. In the end Betts is simply Evil Personified, linking 'Silent Cry' back to the horror film.
Technically, considering the small cost of the production, there's little to fault. The gritty/bleak settings give much of 'Silent Cry' a TV feel at first glance, but the fluid camera and rhythmic cutting are surely cinematic. Technique seldom draws attention to itself, and there are subtleties at work. One sequence, just a random example, where Daniel raids the doctor's office is all the more suspenseful for its stark contrasty lighting, deft intercutting (between a black room and white corridor) and prowling camera. The chase sequences on echoic stairwells, in and out of lifts and through blackened streets have a splendid kinetic feel. Overall, although I don't have my copy of 'Darklands' to hand for comparison, I'd say this is a definite step forward for the director, showing a clear command of the medium. Interesting, too, that as 'Darklands' ends with the birth of one child, 'Silent Cry' begins with another. The work of an auteur or what?
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