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The Independent Critic

Michael Kunicki, Isabella Alonso, Charlisa Anderson, Buzz Leer, Gina Surles
Dan Gremley, Brad Podowski
Brad Podowski
92 Mins.
Indie Rights

 Movie Review: Silent as the Grave 
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Chris Nowak (Michael Kunicki) is a documentary filmmaker whose works are interesting enough, however, his audience appears largely limited to a smattering of friends, family, and acquaintances who show up devotedly to his public screenings. With his latest film following that same pattern, it's a post-screening chat with family where Chris learns of a family mystery involving an uncle's passing and a mysterious stranger who annually plants flowers on the grave. When his mother asks him to explore this mystery, Chris sees the opportunity to turn solving this mystery into a documentary that he's absolutely certain will give him the breakthrough he's always wanted. 

Co-directed by Dan Gremley and Podowski based on Podowski's screenplay, Silent as the Grave is a mystery inspired by actual events. In some ways, Silent as the Grave goes exactly how you expect it to go. In other ways, however, Podowski's astute and insightful dialogue keeps us guessing even as Chris does a deep dive into the 60-year-old mystery of his Uncle Edgar's death and the family belief that this "accident" was, indeed, no accident. However, as is often true of these noirish mysteries, Chris's devotion to truth quickly becomes interpreted as paranoia and his wife, Naomi (Isabella Alonso), is quickly deciding this isn't the life she signed up for as she nears giving birth to the couple's first child. When physical threats start to further jeopardize the family's welfare, there are some decisions to be made. 

Picked up by Indie Rights for distribution, Silent as the Grave is a well-acted, well-produced film with a noirish framework that reflects the darker side of the human condition with little glimmers of hope surround it. Kunicki shines as Chris, convincing as both an almost nerdish documentarian and also as a man whose deep dive has hints of his being slightly off-kilter and paranoid. Kunicki's performance alone helps carry the mystery, though he's aided by Alonso's strong work as Naomi, Gina Surles' excellent turn as Aunt Linda, Charlisa Anderson's convincing performance as Barb Nowak and others. This is truly an ensemble dependent film and the ensemble is strong.

Original music by Raphael Dargent is atmospheric and fits the storytelling quite nicely. Kuba Zelazek's lensing for the film both humanizes the storytelling and helps to build the existing tension throughout the film. While one can certainly tell in moments that this is a low-budget indie, it's a low-budget indie with a strong team that knows how to make that budget work. 

With intelligent storytelling and a rich emotional resonance, Silent as the Grave is definitely a film to check out through all your usual streaming outlets. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic