Review: Clunky drama 'Silo' tells cautionary tale of grain entrapment
Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories
During the closing credits of Marshall Burnette’s “Silo,” we’re shown a harrowing statistic on the amount of grain entrapments that occur each year with many unreported. Generally happening in small, Midwestern towns, Burnette uses a variety of these incidents as the inspiration for his 76 minute debut, but once the dust (or grain) settles, “Silo” doesn’t offer much urgency, gluing together an assortment of characters who don’t offer much purpose. For a first feature on the subject, Burnette is in a delicate position to relay how fatal (and intense) these accidents can be, but “Silo” doesn’t make noise.
With a more fleshed out narrative and keen sense of awareness, “Silo” might have been the scariest film of 2021. The scenario of being trapped in a 50-foot grain silo where you could be sucked into the corn like quicksand at any moment is terrifying, and Burnette never leans heavily into that claustrophobic nightmare to make an impact. Especially when it’s an accident that could happen to anyone, which is exactly how 16-year old Cody (Jack DiFalco) - an asthmatic small-town kid trying to make an extra couple bucks - gets trapped and pinched between the massive pressure of the corn. His distracted boss (Jim Parrack) flipped the grain pipe unbeknownst his employees were inside.
It’s not long before residential town drunk and volunteer firefighter Frank (Jeremy Holm) arrives to help extract Cody and “Silo” evolves into another run-of-the-mill cautionary tale and a rousing, preachy message about life overshadows the inevitable rescue mission. Holm can’t make sense of Burnette and Jason Williamson’s stiff screenplay where, for the entire third act, he screams at local officers and paramedics because they’re lifesaving measures ain’t cutting his gold standard. It’s a stagey “I’M GONNA GET YOU OUT KID!” performance Holm never quite earns.
Burnette throws several good ideas on the screen, but “Silo” feels stuck: On one hand, we have a gripping narrative about a young kid fighting for his life and the entire community rallying to save him; and the other is a story of broken ties and relationships. Frank’s alcoholism (and history) is mentioned in passing and the triangle between himself and Cody’s mother can’t afford the dramatic suspense necessary to sell the material. In the end, you walk away understanding the severity of grain entrapment, but the emotional character investment never pays off.
SILO opens in select theaters and virtual cinemas Friday, May 7th