Starring: John Noble, Rupert Graves, Melina Matthews
Directed by: Lorena Villarreal (“Las Lloronas”)
Written by: Lorena Villarreal (“Las Lloronas”)
Shhh. Hear that sound? That’s “Silencio,” an overambitious sci-fi melodrama written, produced and directed by Lorena Villarreal, landing with a gigantic thud. Using the vague “inspired by true events” proclamation at the beginning of the film is ironic since “Silencio”’s script is so uninspiring.
Set on the backdrop of a real event that happened over 40 years ago, “Silencio” opens with the explosion of a U.S. Air Force missile launched from the Green River Complex in Utah in July 1977. While the intended target of the rocket was the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, it veered off course and hit a region in the Mexican desert known as the Zone of Silence.
Legend has it that the area, also referred to as the Bermuda Triangle of Mexico, contains a magnetic vortex that causes bizarre things to take place like blocked radio transmissions, mutated plants and animals, and alien sightings. Because the missile included a radioactive chemical element, a team of scientists were sent to clean up the debris.
This is the point of “Silencio” where the true narrative ends, and Villarreal takes the reins for an absurd journey that mixes elements of ghost stories, crime thrillers and time-travel nonsense to create an awkward bilingual hybrid lacking a real identity. It might’ve been a better idea if Villarreal had done what director Brad Parker did when he unleashed hordes of mutants in the awful 2012 horror flick “Chernobyl Diaries” set more than two decades after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. At least “Diaries” knows what kind of movie it is.
Instead, Villarreal, whose only other film credit is for writing and directing the 2004 Spanish-language thriller “Las Lloronas” — based on the Mexican folklore myth of La Llorona — slaps together a bunch of sci-fi gibberish and hopes for the best. Luckily, actor John Noble (TV’s “Fringe”) is able to keep his head above water long enough to deliver a sufficient performance.
Nobel stars as Dr. James White, one of the scientists who goes to the site where the radioactive missile crashes. During the cleanup, he unearths a contaminated rock that possesses time-traveling powers. Years later, James — now an uncommunicative old man — is determined to find the magic rock he buried long ago with the help of his granddaughter Ana (Melinda Matthews) and a medium who reawakens his spirit.
Convoluted and aimless, it’s impossible to fully explain what “Silencio” actually is without getting a migraine. If your threshold for pain (or bad movies) is high, wait for it on DVD so you can watch it on mute. It just might make for a more enjoyable experience.