Saturday 24 February 2024

Horror Film Review: Silence of the Prey (2024) ★★★☆☆ (Golden State Film Festival 2024)

Folk horror Silence of the Prey opens the 8th edition of the Golden State Film Festival at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood tonight. Karyna Kudzina stars and makes her directorial debut, alongside Michael Vaynberg, in a film highlighting the plight of undocumented migrants who, lacking the protections of everyday people, often fall through the net.

Karyna Kudzina is Nina and Chris LaPanta is Luther in Silence of the Prey (2023)

Nina (Karyna Kudzina) has escaped her native Belarus and arrived, undocumented, in the United States. Desperate to provide a stable environment for her daughter Isabella, Nina accepts a position as a live-in caretaker for a man on an isolated rural homestead. She is warned that he is eccentric but nothing quite prepares her for Luther (Chris LaPanta) or his community who forego modern conveniences and hunt their own food.

When Colombian national Andres (Monte Bezell) arrives at the homestead after his car breaks down, Nina finds a kindred spirit, one to share the horrors of the locals’ geographical and political ignorance and their increasingly intrusive questions.

“If I have to choose between being homeless on the street with a four-year-old and eventually being deported, or staying with a strange old man, I will choose the last. Unless you have any other suggestions”

As Nina begins to experience disturbing visions and hallucinations, she realises that all is not as it seems with Luther and his community. What is the terrifying secret that Luther is hiding and what lies beyond his friends’ ignorance and prejudice?

Karyna Kudzina is Nina and Chris LaPanta is Luther in Silence of the Prey (2023)

Silence of the Prey highlights the exploitation and vulnerability of those who do not have a voice, the people who arrive silently in other countries and lack the protections of documented arrivals. Anything can happen and as Nina observes, nobody even knows she is there.

Like many folk horror films, Silence of the Prey is a slowburner with little action taking place in the first hour. The isolation of Luther’s homestead and antiquated views of the community provide ample foreshadowing of what is to come.

Silence of the Prey is a family affair. Karyna Kudzina is married to Monte Bezell and their daughter Isabella stars as Isabella in the film. It is no surprise then that there is chemistry and a sense of cohesion between the characters that is obvious on screen. Chris LaPanta shines as the maddening and abstruse Luther, who seems to be on Nina’s side in one moment and not in the next.

My only complaint about Silence of the Prey would be that the storytelling is a bit linear and somewhat lacking in nuance. In their effort to highlight the plight of the undocumented, writers Kudzina and Saro Varjabedian have fallen into the trap of telling rather than showing and the key conflict is delivered with little subtlety.

Karyna Kudzina as Nina in Silence of the Prey (2023)
Despite that, I give Silence of the Prey a good three out of four stars and recommend to fans of independent film and folk horror. I'm interested to see what Karyna Kudzina does next and hope that it includes more collaborations with Monte Bezell.

Trailer:Silence of the Prey (2024). Directed by Michael Vaynberg and Karyna Kudzina

Now in its 8th year, the Golden State Film Festival is an opportunity for emerging independent filmmakers to showcase their talents, gain exposure to a wider audience, and compete for prizes. Filmmakers from across the United States and around the world are eligible to participate, and short-form as well as feature-length works are considered for entry.


No comments

Post a Comment

© 2005 - Mandy Southgate | Addicted to Media

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig