Will Thorne makes his full-length feature writing debut with psychological crime thriller Silent Night, a gritty, but underwhelming hitman story set in South London. Thorne’s passion is clear, packing the film with references from the genre, but Silent Night never fully comes into its own and feels run-of-the-mill, instead of being a breakaway project.
Ex-con Mark’s (Bradley Taylor) past comes back to haunt him after reuniting with cellmate Alan (Cary Crankson), who proposes one last job before going clean. Mark, motivated by his young daughter, wants to stay on the straight and narrow, but amid repeated coercion his from old partner and after a threatening confrontation with his old gangster boss (Frank Harper), he finds himself entangled in a life of crime once again. He is tasked with murdering three people, and is desperate to complete the job, protect his family and avoid another arrest.
Jumping between scenes detailing complex relationships, psychology and the act of murder, Silent Night’s scope is simply too large to effectively unpack in the course of its hour and 33-minute runtime. Will Thorne’s script emulates a series of other thriller features, which results in a jumble of ideas; obviously influenced by films such as Kill List, Snatch and Goodfellas, Silent Night tries to be a cult classic, but ultimately feels directionless.
Despite a promising opening and the distinctive dark and moody aesthetic, it is difficult to stay engaged. Constant exposition is packed into the dialogue and violent sequences are rushed, somehow managing to make even murder feel anti-climatic. The plot feels contrived and laborious at points, as Thorne struggles to create tension and suspense. The film’s redeemable quality is the cast, who showcase dedicated and immersive performances, even while playing shallow archetypes. Taylor and Crankson capture particular attention with their strong on-screen chemistry and engaging back-and-forth. Personality is breathed into the otherwise stale feature thanks to the competent acting.
With a disappointing script and somewhat dated premise, Silent Night is unfortunately unremarkable. Although it is a testament to the power of good actors, the film fails to grab attention and ultimately leaves viewers feeling dissatisfied.
Silent Night is released in select cinemas on 11th December 2020.
Watch the trailer for Silent Night here: