Silent Warnings (2004)
Starring Billy Zane, A.J. Buckley, Callie De Fabry, and Stephen Baldwin
Directed By Christian McIntire
Any similarity between Silent Warnings and Signs is completely intentional, shamelessly so on the part of UFO Films. Actually, UFO here doesn’t rip-off Signs as much as Roger Corman’s Carnosaur 2 ripped-off Aliens scene for scene but about the only real differences between Silent Warnings and Signs are that Mel Gibson’s farm family has been replaced with a bland group of good looking college-age types, a little T&A and a dash of gore has been thrown in, and the budget was probably only slightly more than the amount of money M. Night Shyamalan spent on tin foil.
Personally, I say a better title may for this film would be Crap Circles (Not a typo!) since I’m hard pressed to much of anything nice about a this film. Cheap knock-offs of Hollywood blockbusters are nothing new but really I have very little patience for ones like this that are made simply to cash in without bringing anything innovative to the table.
Despite their names being displayed prominently on the box art for Silent Warnings, please don’t be fooled into thinking that Billy Zane and Stephen Baldwin are the stars of the movie. Baldwin only appears in the first five minutes and very briefly again later via videotape. Zane only shows up very briefly two or three times until playing a prominent role in the climax. Both are only minor supporting characters whereas the overwhelming majority of the movie focuses on your typical bland group of photogenic college-age friends.
Can someone please explain to me what exactly happened to Billy Zane’s career? Is he like Samson? Did losing his hair cost him his star power? He goes from starring in The Phantom and co-starring in Titanic to having what amounts to little more than a minor supporting role as a cop in a movie as lame as this? The man deserves better.
The badness that is Silent Warnings begins right off the bat as we are treated to Stephen Baldwin doing the single worst "crazy Randy Quaid" impression ever seen or heard by mankind. Fortunately, this jaw-dropping bit of bad overacting ends after a few minutes. Then we are introduced to the incredibly bland group of young actors as they venture out to Baldwin’s house that just happens to be smack dab in the middle of a cornfield. One of the personality-free twenty-something types is the brother or the nephew of the Baldwin character; I forget which. What matters is that he’s related to Baldwin’s character and has come to settle his estate or something like that. None of that really matters because it barely gets discussed. It’s really just an excuse to get these characters to stay at his house in the cornfield so that they can discover crop circles out in the fields just in time for mysterious creatures begin stalking and killing them.
The movie wants to have the slow build of Signs while still employing the cheap scares of a slasher flick. Problem is, the slow build is just incredibly slow and boring as virtually nothing of interest happens for long periods of time and the cheap scares are more cheap than scary. Nothing like a tedious, slow moving sci-fi horror movie that tries to shock you awake every now and then with very little success. Silent Warnings is a major league snoozefest up until the last ten minutes.
Ah, the big finale, where it’s a good thing the movie was already a lost cause or else this would have completely killed it. The aliens finally stage their all out assault and what a sight it is to behold. They look just like the ones you’ll see on the cover of a Whitley Strieber book or in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, except they have been brought to life via some of the lamest CGI effects work I have ever seen. I’ve said it a million times before and I’ll say it here again, I cannot comprehend why low budget genre makers would rather use bottom of the barrel CGI to bring a monster to life rather than use a guy in a suit. An actor in a monster costume may not be 100% realistic but at least it looks tangible and won’t move in a clunky unnatural manner like it came out of an 80’s video game. Because of that, these aliens are not even laughably bad. They are just plain bad.
Oh, and just like in Signs there’s a natural element that proves to be the aliens’ biggest weakness, only this one is even more impractical.
Anyone that hates Signs should be tied to a chair and forced to endure Silent Warnings. You may still hate Signs afterwards but you’re practically guaranteed to develop a new appreciation for M. Night’s work.
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