When you watch Netflix's new horror film, try not to scream — or else. Just a few months after Bird Box became a terrifying phenomenon, Netflix has released the first trailer for The Silence, which promises to be even scarier and more haunting than the post-apocalyptic Sandra Bullock film. And The Silence's Netflix-horror pedigree doesn't end there: the movie also stars Miranda Otto and Kiernan Shipka from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
Set in a future where the world is under attack from monsters that hunt and kill their prey using their sense of sound, Shipka plays Ally, a deaf 16-year-old who, along with her family, is on a journey to a remote safe haven. However, "they discover a sinister cult who are eager to exploit Ally's heightened senses," according to Netflix's description of the film. Based on the novel by Thomas Lebbon, The Silence also stars Stanley Tucci as Ally's father, who, along with Otto, is attempting to keep his family safe from the monsters attacking them — both human and otherworldly.
In addition to Bird Box and Sabrina, the trailer for The Silence is also earning comparisons to 2018's hit horror film, A Quiet Place, which also featured a deaf protagonist, played by actress Millicent Simmonds. Though Shipka isn't hard of hearing, she learned sign language for the role, according to director John Leonetti. "She learned to sign for the film, and now she’s flawless, like she’s been signing her entire life," he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017. "She’s acting alongside Stanley Tucci, and believe me, she’s more than holding her own. It’s been spellbinding watching her." (The Silence has been criticized by the Deaf community, including actor Marlee Matlin, as reported by Yahoo, for not featuring a deaf actress in the role of Ally; the first trailer for the film also doesn't showcase Shipka using sign language.)
Unlike A Quiet Place, the family at the center of The Silence isn't alone in the world, but is instead fighting for survival alongside millions of other people who are attempting to escape the creatures. "These creatures, called Vesps, don’t have eyes. They base everything on sound. Anything that makes a sound, they dive-bomb and swarm," Leonetti told THR about the prehistoric creatures, which take over the world in the film.
"But this family, their 17-year-old daughter Ally is deaf, so they communicate with sign language," he continued. "That gives them a chance to escape. It’s really a family drama with an apocalyptic situation. And the concept of silence, that sound — even dialogue — is the enemy, makes it unique."
Shipka's role in The Silence comes on the heels of her acclaimed performance as Sabrina Spellman in Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a dark, scary, and feminist reworking of the Archie Comics character. "I’m not going to take on anything that I don’t resonate with, and I don’t think I would resonate with something that wasn’t feminist in nature," the former Mad Men star told Refinery29 in October 2018 about choosing roles as a young adult actress.
Shipka also revealed that she struggled to find roles she could really connect with after Mad Men ended, which made landing the role of Sabrina even sweeter. "I was a little bit, down in the dumps, frustrated actor for a second," Shipka told Refinery29. "It wasn’t like things were flying my way, left and right. I was sort of hustling, and [the role of Sabrina] came my way, and I knew I couldn’t give it up. I fought really hard [for it] and put a lot of work in."
Shipka's willingness to put in a lot of hard work is evident in both Sabrina — which will return for Season 2 on April 5 — and in her terrifying quest for safety in The Silence, which will premiere on Netflix April 10. Hopefully both her characters will get the triumphant ending they deserve, especially given their particularly dire circumstances.