By Carol Ellis.
The unexpected death of Lucy’s close friend and next-door neighbour, Allan, hits her hard. It takes her a while to fulfil her promise to Allan’s mum, to distribute a box of his things amongst their circle of friends. Lucy’s best friend Jenny takes a couple of CDs, studious Robert gets a Michael Jordan poster, Brad grabs some comics (to the disdain of his omnipresent girlfriend, Suzanne) and newcomer Jon, who Allan introduced to the group just a couple of months before his fatal accident, inherits a basketball. Lucy keeps a videotape (Allan constantly had a camcorder glued to his face) which on first watch seems to be just a montage of the friends hanging out together. There’s no soundtrack, but she decides it would make a nice tribute to Allan if she edits and adds music to the video, with tech-minded Jenny’s help.
Then Lucy finds herself the victim of a stalker: she gets phone calls and blank answerphone messages from an anonymous breather; someone breaks into her locker and her school bag; and when she’s home alone, she hears a prowler in the backyard. When Jon asks her out, it’s a welcome distraction from the creepiness. But he acts strangely on their date, and when she sees him on the videotape, angrily confronting Allan about something, Lucy has to question how well she really knows him. And Jon’s not the only one acting strangely. Suzanne is openly hostile towards Lucy every time they meet. When Jenny is mugged on her way home from the video lab whilst wearing Lucy’s distinctive yellow poncho, it finally dawns on Lucy that the stalker is after Allan’s videotape. She realises that if they’re willing to resort to violence, the tape must hold a terrible secret, and one which will perhaps shed new light on Allan’s untimely death. Lucy resolves to watch the video, and get to the bottom of the mystery, to rid herself of the stalker, once and for all.
Silent Witness revolves around two compelling mysteries: the identity of Lucy’s stalker, and the secret on the videotape. There’s a lot of filler as we meander towards the truth, and the circumstances that get in the way of Lucy just sitting down and watching the video tits-to-teeth are sometimes frustratingly contrived. Still, whilst it’s not the most interesting, fun or thrilling Point Horror, our curiosity is nevertheless maintained; the obligatory red herrings are deftly laid, and the guessable-yet-satisfying twist makes for a dramatic finale.
For most of the narrative there are very few scares, but when Lucy eventually cottons on to the danger she is in, and the significance of the tape, the action ramps up and things take a sinister turn. The empty video lab is a suitably creepy setting for Lucy to (finally) watch the tape the whole way through, and the tension simmers away as we draw close to the truth. Unfortunately, the long-awaited revelation and final confrontation are not as scary or thrilling as they should be, and much more could be made of the perpetrator’s psychotic personality and chilling lack of remorse. There is danger, and action, but very little horror in this entry.