Shamelessly borrowing plot elements, stylistic tropes, and even musical flourishes from Psycho (1960), this modestly budgeted shocker is of a piece with the countless slasher films that kept teen audiences squealing with nervous delight throughout the 1980s. Like most of those interchangeable pictures, The Silent Scream combines a far-fetched storyline with nasty gore and predictable scares to create a lot of empty cinematic noise. As in Psycho, the story revolves around a pretty young woman picking the wrong place to stay. College student Scotty (Rebecca Balding) takes a room in a gothic-style boarding house overlooking the California shoreline. Despite bonding with fellow young tenants, she’s unnerved by the proprietors, a family including awkward twentysomething Mason (Brad Rearden). In classic slasher-film fashion, Scotty ignores various warning signs, because she’s more focused on dating a handsome young tenant than on noticing that several murders have occurred nearby. Unbeknownst to Scotty, disturbed Victoria (Barbara Steele) lives in the boarding house attic, and Victoria has a rude habit of venturing outside to kill people. You can figure out where it goes from there—each murder brings Victoria closer to Scotty, even as intrepid cops (played by Cameron Mitchell and Avery Schreiber) follow clues. Will Scotty survive? Whatever. The Silent Scream has a few demented moments, like the scene in which Steele dances around her attic with a corpse as her only companion, and the body count rises substantially in the third act. Yet nothing imaginative or surprising happens, so The Silent Scream is, at best, a somewhat competent recitation of the imperiled-innocent formula. If a smattering of sex and a splash of plasma speeds your pulse, indulge. If not, ignore.
The Silent Scream: LAME
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