It’s good versus evil, The Dark Tower (2017) meets Tolkien in the brand new Fantasy Adventure saga Tower of Silence. High Octane Pictures deliver the film to Digital and DVD on Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019.
The great sorceress Kae (Jenny Sterlin: Law & Order series, Blood, Sand & Gold 2017) has been captured by the evil necromancer Marwoleath (Christopher L. McAllister: Allegiance 2012, Mamarosh 2013). With the kingdom in upheaval, paladin Denzikel (Brandon Tyler Harris: Eyeborgs 2009, The Intern 2015) joins forces with Arcadia (Taylor Rose: The Family Fang 2015, We Only Know So Much 2018), who is naturally gifted with magic, and intelligent leader Rahim (Brandon Gill: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice 2010, The Punisher series) to set things right.
Before they can reach The Tower, however, the friends journey will lead them straight to scar-faced Groth (Mark Evans: Lake Placid 3 2010, Instinct series) and his legion of The Fallen. With the aid of Captain Orson (Rick Zahn: House of Cards series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit series), a young woman named Lior (Melissa Navia: Love Me Anyway 2018, Dietland series), and their bevy of soldiers, Denzikel and his group will attempt to save Kae before it is too late.
Clocking in at 107 minutes, Tower of Silence is a feature-length directorial debut for Erik Flynn Patton (Acabonac Sunrise short 2015), and is the debut screenplay of Daniel Patton. The film also features the acting talents of Sipiwe Moyo (How To Be Single 2016, Orange Is the New Black series), Ronald Peet (First Reformed 2017, Blindspot series), Arielle Jacobs (Water Lilies 2005, The Unfortunate Truth short 2012), Teddy Cañez (New Amsterdam series, Tales of the City series), Lloyd Floyd (The Warriors video game 2005, Grand Theft Auto IV video game 2008), and more.
Billed as a combination of Tolkien and “a fantastical, dazzling love letter to The Princess Bride and Stephen King’s The Dark Tower,” Tower of Silence is an intriguing offering. With world-building that aims to be on par with Game of Thrones, costuming and landscapes that often evoke the aforementioned The Princess Bride (1987), homages to Stephen King and Tolkien, there is even an element of The Walking Dead found in The Fallen. A legion of tormented souls who have turned to barely human husks with swords, The Fallen are one of several odd choices made in Tower of Silence.
Clearly, this is a Fantasy Adventure flick that refuses to be limited by budget. The Pattons and their cast and crew dreamed big on Tower of Silence and it shows. However, there are some issues, perhaps most importantly its screenplay and run time. This is a film that could easily be shaved down by 15-20 minutes and little would be lost. In fact, the screenplay itself needs to be tightened so that the story can truly glory in its finest moments. Sadly, there are too many moving parts and some of the key plot points are lost in the mire of characters and action—or left undisclosed until nearly the very last second. For the audience to remain engaged, the story needs to improve upon its flow.
Additional issues are present, sure, but many are clearly due to budget and hardly as important as the script. These include poor use of green screen, minor audio and visual syncing problems, and a final 15 minutes tinted blue that does not match anything that came before visually. Thankfully, there are definitely positives and these include Samantha Newby’s creative costume design, which is well-done throughout, as well as the film’s grand original score by Milen Petzelt-Sorace (Hi Alice short 2014, The Village Green mini-series). Both of these, along with the film’s stellar cast, elevate the story’s delivery.
Speaking of that phenomenal cast, Sterlin leads the way as the imprisoned sorceress Kae. With all of the masterful intensity and poise of the great Lin Shaye, Sterlin delivers a powerfully convincing performance in her role—no matter what is happening around her. Her exchanges with co-star McAllister are wonderful, showing both actors’ exceptional strengths. Interestingly, it’s important to note that in the role of Marwoleath, McAllister is solely the body of the character while Cañez is the man behind that stirring bass that calls to mind the legendary James Earl Jones. Together, the two men provide a unique villain for this fantastical tale.
With the most screen time, Harris, Rose, and Gill are also wonderful in their roles. As Denzikel, Harris offers up several fun fight scenes and gives a solid performance, while Gill’s Rahim is a standout thanks to his calm and focused demeanor. Elegant even when traveling through the woods, Gill’s Rahim is definitely worthy of a courtly fantasy tale. Of course, Rose too delivers in her role as the magically-inclined Arcadia. Also, while Moyo is given little screen time, her acting talents are exceptional and she does her bit part proud.
All of this said, Tower of Silence is truly a mixed bag. Not without flaws, the film is a bit trying at its current run time but it definitely has its strong points too. There’s wonderful CGI utilized to create a magical element in certain scenes, a strange claymation creature that calls to mind the Rancor of Star Wars crossed with The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Oogie Boogie, and generally very well-choreographed fight scenes. If you love world-building, kings, paladins, and sorcery (oh my!), there is definitely something here to pique your interest.
Despite its flaws, it’s important to appreciate a first-time feature director who is willing to aim for the stars rather than sit complacently in a cliche corner. So, while Tower of Silence never quite reaches its full potential, the massive scale of the production is impressive and the film definitely has its moments—and a truly commendable cast. For this, Cryptic Rock give Tower of Silence 3.5 of 5 stars.