Silent Panic


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Silent Panic
"Kyle Schadt's intelligent script is enhanced by the delicate touch with which he handles the drama as each man wrestles with his own conflicts."

What would you do if you returned to your car after a camping trip and found a dead body in the boot? Most people would probably call the police - but now imagine that you or one of the friends you are with has previously spent a year in prison for a crime later proven to have been committed by somebody else. The fear of going through that again might make things look a bit different. Of course, the smart thing would probably be to take the body out of the car, brush it down and leave it on the ground - but people don't always do the smart thing in stressful situations. And with every moment that goes by after deciding to drive away, the body sill in the car, without making a report, the more difficult it becomes to do the right thing.

Eagle (Sean Nateghi) has been badly scarred by his prison experience. He feels that he owes his recovery to girlfriend Robin (Constance Brenneman) and he desperately doesn't want some new incident to make her think she made the wrong choice. Now, however, he has a body in the car they both use and he has to work out what to do with it. Meanwhile, his friend Bobby (Joseph Martinez) is racked by guilt, struggling to relax with the young son who needs him, and experiencing intense cravings for the cocaine he gave up years ago. Their other friend, Dominic (Jay Habre), a quiet guy who doesn't like to rock the boat, discovers that looking the other way isn't as easy as he thought and can't shake the feeling that, even now, he should go to the police.

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There's plenty of material here for a conventional thriller. Will one of the men betray the others? How will they respond if they believe that's going to happen? Is whoever originally dumped the body still at large? What makes Silent Panic stand out is that it pushes these concerns into the background in favour of focusing on the psychological impact of the men's decision. Kyle Schadt's intelligent script is enhanced by the delicate touch with which he handles the drama as each man wrestles with his own conflicts. All the leads are solid and there's some excellent supporting work, including a cameo from Jeff Dowd as Bobby's former dealer who is convinced that what he really needs is rehab. The scenes of Bobby with his son are beautifully handled and have a spontaneous character stemming from great chemistry between the actors, which enhances the sense of how much this troubled man has to lose.

It's easy to imagine that, faced with a similar situation, one would make better decisions or at least tell better lies, but the reality is that people screw up like this all time. There is nothing in Schadt's film that strains credulity. Although some scenes could use a little more polish - this is only his second feature - there's some really impressive work here that will leave viewers eager to see what he does next.

Reviewed on: 30 Jun 2019
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Three friends discover a dead body while on a camping trip, but cannot agree on whether or not to tell the police.

Director: Kyle Schadt

Writer: Kyle Schadt

Starring: Sean Nateghi, Joseph Martinez, Jay Habre, Constance Brenneman, Juliet Frew, Helene Udy

Year: 2018

Runtime: 96 minutes


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