SILENT PANIC * USA 2019 Dir: Kyle Schadt. 96 minutes
What would happen if a group of friends found a dead body in their car? That’s the question SILENT PANIC asks, and although the simplest prompts can sometimes offer the most compelling narratives, this film couldn’t find its footing. Dom (Jay Habre), Bobby (Joseph Martinez), and Eagle (Sean Nateghi) are camping in the woods, talking about poker, shuttlecocks, and Peter Gabriel. We learn that Eagle spent a year and a half in jail for a crime he didn’t commit—which really complicates things when they return to his car and discover a corpse in the trunk. It’s a mildly interesting moral dilemma, based on the characters’ circumstances. Of course Bobby and Dom want to call the police, but Eagle, who has some trust issues with the justice system, wants them to wait (it’s his car after all). But beyond its premise, this film has some big issues it just can’t get around—namely the disconnected story and poorly-written dialogue. Scenes meant to illustrate just how much these men have to lose seem forced and unrealistic, and as a viewer it’s frustrating watching characters get so affected by a problem that has such an obvious solution. So, as things start to fall apart, it’s hard to care. We’re being told tension is rising, but we never get the opportunity to feel it for ourselves.
Review by Julia Lynch