Silent Fall is a 1994 film about the murder of a couple and their autistic son who witnessed the murders.
7 out of 10 stars. This was actually a pretty good film. It’s looking a little dated, but there were a lot of really good films made in the 1990s. I’m not sure why it bombed at the box office.
The police are called to a double homicide and discover a father and mother brutally stabbed. The teenage daughter is covered in blood and unconscious in the closet. The young autistic son is covered in blood and holding the murder weapon, a huge knife, in the living room. The police call in child psychologist Dr. Jake Rainier and within minutes he has the knife away from Tim and has him playing cards. This gift Rainier has with autistic children is the key to solving the crimes, so his friend, the lead detective, begs him to take the case.
The backstory of the film is that Jake had a group of autistic children he was treating and one of them drowned himself in the lake next to Jake’s home. Since then he’s switched to private practice and doesn’t treat autistic kids anymore. His wife Karen would like to change that.
It’s pretty obvious from the start who the real killer is (the teenage daughter), but all of the clues point to either Tim, the autistic son, or an intruder. It’s not even the murder deduction that got my attention, but the way Jake was with Tim. There are several places in the film where Jake explains how autistic people see the world and it is truly horrifying. No wonder they need to self comfort so much.
Eventually Jake unlocks the memories inside of Tim’s head and Tim repeats all the dialogue from the murder like a parrot or myna bird. He even copies the voices eerily well. In that dialogue is the key to understanding what happened that evening.
SPOILERS. Over the years the father had been raping the older daughter Sylvie. The mother knew and did nothing. The father kept naked photos of Tim secretly hidden away and was raping him too. When the mother found out she didn’t do anything, so Sylvie snapped and killed them both. When Jake discovers this she drugs him, pushes him on the thin ice on the lake so he can drown, and leaves him. Tim is the one who saves him and in a very clever way.
7 out of 10 stars. Still a good film. I think the bad ratings were because the killer is pretty obvious from the start. But it’s still interesting to watch Jake work with Tim. And that’s the goal of every film–to entertain. It doesn’t need to be a literary masterpiece.