Directed by Robin Pront, ‘The Silencing’ is a dark crime thriller film set in a foggy forested landscape. The narrative follows a former hunter, Rayburn (Nikolaj Coster), who spends his days in a drunken daze while safeguarding a wildlife sanctuary. His daughter had been vehemently against his trapper hunting profession, and after she mysteriously disappeared, he creates a sanctuary in her name and monitors it with surveillance cameras. Years after the incident, he hears of the police finding the body of a teen girl and requests the sheriff, Gustafson, to see the victim. She was not his daughter, but they discover an unsettling cut on her throat, made by the killer to render her mute. He had been releasing his victims in the forest, to hunt them with spears thrown using an atlatl, a primitive tool.
Both of them resolve to find the killer, and not long after Rayburn spots a girl being chased in the woods by a figure in a Ghillie Suit. A cat and mouse chase commences, with the camouflage killer a dark presence seemingly lurking around every corner. The 2020 film captures the primeval thrill of a fight for survival in a ghastly forest, along with the urgency to stop a killer before he finds his next victim. If the pulse-pounding cinematic experience of ‘The Silencing,’ enthralled you, there are several movies like it on our list, waiting to entertain you, with their terrifying tales.
8. The Marsh King’s Daughter (2023)
‘The Marsh King’s Daughter’ by director Neil Burger follows its titular protagonist, Helena, whose father had kidnapped her mother and hid in the deep forests of the Upper Peninsula. After growing up, she escaped, and started a new life with a family of her own, while her father was arrested and served a life sentence. When the Marsh King escapes from prison and disappears into the wilderness, she must face her past, knowing he will come for her.
Stakes are high with Helena’s family on the line, as she enters the forest to hunt the man who had taught her everything about surviving in it. The film enters a similar cat-and-mouse game to ‘The Silencing’ with a deeply personal and complex dynamic between the two survivalists, delivering a thrilling family feud in the wilderness of Michigan.
7. Copycat (1995)
An agoraphobic criminal psychologist, Helen Hudson (Sigourney Weaver), identifies the patterns of a murderer imitating the modus operandi of infamous serial killers throughout history. She starts to work with the police detectives Monahan and Reuben to identify his next victim, but they are all contacted by the deviant first. He taunts and toys with them, visiting Helen in her sleep and leaving behind a book.
The Jon Amiel-directed film amps up the tension, as they make disjointed efforts to figure out his next move, with their own lives becoming increasingly petrifying. Much like the Ghilee-suited stalker from ‘The Silencing,’ the copycat killer becomes a constant terror, making his presence felt even in Helen’s isolation.
6. The Clovehitch Killer (2018)
Duncan Skiles directed ‘The Clovehitch Killer’ presents a chilling serial killer story that hits very close to home. A serene town in Kentucky is shaken by the murders of ten women at the hands of a psychopath dubbed the Clovehitch Killer. A decade later the case remains unsolved as a young boy Tyler, discovers photographs of missing girls in his own home, suspecting one among his family to be the killer.
The film creates palpable tension as Tyler gets closer and closer to the truth, all the while laughing and playing with the killer every day. If you found Robin Pront’s dark atmospheric hide-and-seek thrilling, ‘The Clovehitch Killer’ will surprise you by flipping the methodology, using a bright and picture-perfect family setting to hide a monster in plain sight, creating an extremely unsettling experience.
5. The Pledge (2001)
A retiring detective promises the grieving mother of a murdered girl that he will not rest until the man responsible is found. Jerry Black (Jack Nicholson) dedicates himself to the search, heading to the mountains where the crimes took place and buying a gas station there to keep up surveillance. An arrest has already been made for the killings, but Black is convinced they haven’t found the right man, who is going to strike again.
Jerry’s vigilance leads him to unearth the killer’s use of a monicker, “the wizard,” as he hands out toy porcupines as gifts. He befriends a woman with a young daughter and tones down his solitary life, having potentially disastrous consequences. If you enjoyed the mystery built up in ‘The Silencing,’ Sean Penn’s buildup of suspense in ‘The Pledge’ will pull you into the tireless search of Black and leave you at the edge of your seat up until the end.
4. Hush (2016)
Mike Flanagan helms ‘Hush,’ a truly chilling thriller that pits a deaf and dumb writer living in the woods, against a masked assailant determined to claim her head. Maddie lives far from the city, in solitude, both in her surroundings and in her mind. We watch in silent horror as a survivor of the hunter’s attacks bangs at her door, while she works on her book, oblivious to the approaching danger. A crossbow bolt pierces the victim, and he is dragged away.
Vulnerable and alone, she becomes the ideal target for the killer to toy with and is in for the struggle for her life. Mike Flanagan nails the film’s pacing, atmosphere, and the mounting tension. Maddie navigates the battleground of her own home, which takes on a new horrifying persona with the killer potentially hiding in any room. For fans of ‘The Silencing,’ ‘Hush’ will be a gratifying experience in perfect tension, heightened by the protagonist’s vulnerability
3. Don’t Breathe (2016)
‘Don’t Breathe,’ with Fede Alvarez in the directing chair, is an incredibly intriguing yet deeply nerve-wracking thriller with a brilliant premise and an even better delivery. Rocky, a young woman resorting to thievery to improve her desperate financial situation and provide for her little sister, decides to rob a blind war veteran’s home. Along with her brash boyfriend, Money, and a reluctant friend, Alex, they enter his house at night. After making one little noise however, the blind man is standing among them.
They are in for a rude shock as he guns down one of them and starts systematically hunting the others after barricading the front door. Then, the film paces along at breakneck speed, living up to its namesake and delivering a breathlessly thrilling ordeal. Those who have appreciated ‘The Silencing’ as a pulse-pounding thriller, owe it to themselves to watch this masterpiece with a dark twist.
2. Memories of Murder (2003)
The South Korean movie by acclaimed director Bong Joon Ho tells the true story of the gruesome murders of women in a small South Korean province. The film takes place in 1986 and follows three policemen completely out of their depth to deal with the travesty. They use draconian torture techniques to bully hapless suspects, compromise crime scenes, and take an excruciatingly long time to realize the murders are the work of a serial killer.
Many crime films, including ‘The Silencing,’ throw light on the inadequacies of local law enforcement when it comes to dealing with serial killers. However, ‘Memories of Murder’ takes on the subject as a dark and grounded satire. The incredibly focused detectives piecing together leads from vague clues in Western crime dramas are replaced by blundering buffoons who might be doing more harm than good. The film takes a raw and gritty approach to a harsh subject matter and portrays it brilliantly with stellar performances from just about every cast member.
1. The Frozen Ground (2013)
Scott Walker’s directorial debut ‘The Frozen Ground’ tells the harrowing true story of Robert Hansen, Alaska’s serial killer, and his case in the 1970s and 80s. We follow Alaskan trooper Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) tirelessly working to put together links and leads between the murder of several young women. Cindy Paulsen, a survivor of the murderer’s attack, reports his identity to the police. They ridicule her for accusing Hansen, an upstanding member of the community, who owns a restaurant and has multiple alibis. She falls back to her life of drug use and prostitution before Halcombe finds her and tries to get her to testify.
There are several similarities in ‘The Silencing’ as compared to this film. Killers of both features release their victims in the cold wilderness only to hunt them down. A lack of action by local law enforcement is highlighted, and the killer himself holds an upstanding image despite having a clearly disturbed background. The film boasts great performances from its cast, and Cage perfectly embodies Halcombe, being a listener and a thinker, as he reads between the lines to outsmart a true psychopath.