When seemingly happy couple Rosalind (Olga Kurylenko) and Will (Claes Bang) discover that she is pregnant with twins, they are initially overjoyed at the news. However, when Rosalind suffers an accident that results in one of the twins being stillborn, her mental state quickly begins to deteriorate. She leaves Will, taking her surviving baby, called Amadeo, and twin daughters with her. When Will eventually tracks her down to a seaside cottage where she used to reside as child, he discovers that Rosalind has murdered Amadeo. Soon, he realises that the truth behind Rosalind’s mental breakdown involves a traumatic sexual assault at the cottage, as well as her seemingly innocent parents (Brian Cox, Alice Krige).

Director van der Oest does manage to use the Gothic aspects of the narrative to evoke some creepy imagery, namely in her depiction of Rosalind’s declining mental state, which leads to shots of Kurylenko repeatedly scratching at walls, as well as a sequence showing Will and his daughters pushing a pram containing Amadeo’s lifeless body along a windswept beach. In addition, the central cast all provide impressive performances, with Bang effectively essaying Will’s emotional distress upon discovering the extent of his wife’s seeming breakdown and Kurylenko convincingly depicting Rosalind’s fragile mental state. Cox also does a solid job with his role as Rosalind’s father, despite the plot requiring his character to take an improbable turn in the third act.

However, the development of this thriller takes it in directions that aren’t exactly coherent or, well, thrilling, with certain plot points that initially appear important (such as the fates of Rosalind’s babies) proving to be ultimately irrelevant when the reasons behind Rosalind’s behaviour are eventually revealed. These revelations are not only narratively implausible, relying on a key character suddenly revealing an ability to speak English and clunky exposition dumps at the climax, but also somewhat offensive in their handling of sensitive issues such as mental illness and child rape. The issue of mental illness and its connection to Rosalind also creates a further plot hole that demands Will be unable to notice strange medication in his own bathroom cabinet!

The character of Will himself is given surprisingly little to do, seeing that he is ostensibly the main protagonist of this film. His search for the truth largely consists of questioning a few people, one of whom effectively solves the main mystery for him. The script was adapted from Lisa St Aubin de Teran‘s novel by actress Caroline Goodall (Hook, Disclosure), who also co-stars in the film – sadly, her work here shows that her acting is superior to her writing.

The Bay of Silence takes what could have been a promising idea for a thriller and sadly wastes its potential on narrative dead-ends and implausible plot developments. Not even the likes of Brian Cox can elevate this derivative film, which in an earlier age would have gone straight to video.

Available to watch on video on demand Mon 28 Sep 2020