Granted, there are not too many films about grain entrapment to compare "Silo" to. But this tense, focused drama/thriller has enough uniqueness and intrigue to suck you in, if not overwhelm you, with sharply-drawn yet simplistic characters and a strange situation that benefits from the audience not knowing its dangers.
We all know the vital role that farmers play in American society and its economy, and it's good when a film can come along and remind us of their important sacrifices. But unless you are a farmer yourself, you probably weren't aware that - as the film "Silo" tells us - one person per month on average dies in a grain entrapment accident, where the weight of the product in a silo can sometimes be more than several million pounds, acting as a sort of quicksand, or concrete, that becomes nearly inescapable for those unfortunate enough to find themselves trapped in it.
The particular story of "Silo" is efficient and sharply written, and most (like myself) will appreciate the incredibly short run-time of just 76 minutes. In that time, "Silo" creates characters and a rural community that feels real and lived-in, and does more with its characters than many other dramas do with run-times sometimes hours longer.
This account is based on a real occurrence in what could be any Small Town, USA. Cody (Jack DiFalco) is a young man who works on a farm, but has dreams of making it as a raging, thrash-rock singer. His buddy, Lucha (Danny Ramirez) tells him he hast the talent, but Cody doubts himself. His mother Valerie (Jill Paice, who carries much of the film's emotional weight, quite successfully) doesn't want him anywhere near a man we assume might be his dad or some sort of Ex...so of course, this man, Frank (Jeremy Holm), who works at a gas station on the outskirts of town and is a volunteer firefighter (as many are in rural areas), is the one that ends up coming in to help when something goes horribly, horribly wrong.
A hard-working farmhand himself, Junior (Jim Parrack, recognizable to most as the dim-witted hayseed, Hoyt Fortenberry, from HBO's "True Blood") is pulling double-duty as the caretaker for his aging father (Chris Ellis), a retired farmer that still lives on the farm and seems to be battling dementia on some level. When the old man gets confused and wanders out of the house and into the grain mill, Junior humors him by allowing him to release a massive load of grain from one of the silos. Junior had no idea that Cody, Lucha and war-veteran, Sutter (James DeForest Parker), were actively working within the silo. The release sucks them in, and the rescue mission begins.
"Silo" wastes little time in establishing these characters, giving all of them just enough background to make them each unique, believable and distinctive. The majority of the film deals with how this community comes together to save one of their own. Again, because the audience has most likely never seen anything like this, it's hard to apply the usual predictions or assumptions as to what might happen. You just watch, hoping for the best, and invested in the idea that human nature is inherently good...these people are going to put aside their differences and help one another, not for political, financial or personal gain, but because it's the right thing to do.
Jim Parrack, Jill Paice, Jack DiFalco and Jeremy Holm give performances that add to the humanity of it all, and the cast is rounded-out by faces that seem natural and fitting...like the cast in "Nomadland," these actors don't feel like actors at all but real people.
"Silo" is thrilling without ever manipulating, and it thrives in its simplicity of story-telling. It's a small film that delivers big things, and it's definitely worth seeking out.
Genre: Drama, Thriller.
Run Time: 1 hour 16 minutes.
Starring: Jeremy Holm, Jill Paice, Jack DiFalco, Jim Parrack, Chris Ellis.
Story by and Directed by Marshall Burnette (feature-film debut).
"Silo" is available on Friday, May 7th, 2021.
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