Netflix Crime Mystery Thriller With Game Of Thrones Star Goes To Dark Corners Of Life

By Robert Scucci | Published

The Silencing is one of those movies that critics hated but audiences loved, and I think I have a theory as to why. This Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) starring movie was released right after the height of the Covid-19 lock downs, and I think people were excited to see any somewhat decent movie in theaters, which resulted in a 90 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

However, critics who constantly expose themselves to movies with similar plots faulted this movie for being derivative, which is made apparent by its 20 percent critical score. My opinion of The Silencing falls somewhere in between, as it’s an effective thriller with strong acting. But I can’t say that it boasts an entirely original premise either.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Is Intense From Start To Finish

The Silencing is a tense exploration of grief and obsession centering on a retired hunter named Rayburn Swanson (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Rayburn is a highly functional alcoholic who runs the Gwen Swanson sanctuary, where hunting is forbidden. The sanctuary is named after Rayburn’s missing daughter, who disappeared under suspicious circumstances five years prior, and Rayburn spends most of his time in a remote cabin on the property, maintaining the grounds in solitude.

A Life Of Self-Exile

Though Rayburn is anything but kind to himself in The Silencing, he takes his work seriously and surveils the sanctuary from the safety of his home to make sure no illegal hunting is taking place. While reviewing the footage after a violent run in with a man dressed in ghillie suit for stealth hunting, Rayburn learns that a teenage girl is being hunted on his property.

Having reason to believe that the hunter is the same man who abducted Gwen years ago, Rayburn becomes obsessed with not only the idea that Gwen is still alive because they never found her body, but that he’s also possibly dealing with a serial killer who likes to hunt for sport using the sanctuary as his playground.

The Widening Mystery

The Silencing gets all the more sinister when we’re introduced to Sheriff Alice Gustafson (Annabelle Wallis), who suspects that her troubled younger brother, Brooks (Hero Fiennes Tiffin), is getting involved with some very dangerous people. Brooks has a traumatic past that he only vaguely alludes to, but one that suggests he’s familiar with the killer’s M.O., which involves throwing spears at his prey and cutting the voice box out of their throats so they can’t scream while they’re being hunted.

Another Serial Killer Hunting Humans For Sport

While the “serial killer hunting humans for sport” plot that plays out in The Silencing is pretty standard when you consider how many other films have done this before (Alone and The Frozen Ground are prime examples), my main takeaway is that this film is more so about Rayburn’s struggle with his alcoholism, guilt, grief, and his search for closure and revenge.

Had he never stopped at the store to purchase whiskey, his daughter would have never been abducted, and he blames himself for the way his life turned out. Rayburn feels an obligation to help the teenage girl, who’s clearly the killer’s next target, because he believes it will absolve him of the guilt he’s been carrying for years.

Focuses On One Man’s Grief

The Silencing is absolutely a derivative film, but it’s a unique enough exploration of one man’s grief to keep you engaged from start to finish. Using the beats typically found in a hunter-thriller plot, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau masterfully portrays a broken man who’s desperately searching for redemption and closure after his life is turned upside down by his daughter’s disappearance.

Streaming Now On Netflix


In other words, The Silencing doesn’t reinvent the wheel by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a solid film that attempts to explore these things using the serial killer plot as its narrative vehicle.

You can arrive at your own conclusion by streaming The Silencing on Netflix, but I’d call this a solid thriller while comparing it to its contemporaries. This movie does exactly what it sets out to do, even if what it sets out to do has been done before.