Sunday, July 15, 2012

Silent House

Year: 2012
Directors: Chris Kentis & Laura Lau
Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens

Plot: A girl plays cat and mouse with an intruder while helping her father and uncle repair their abandoned lake house.

Review: Silent House is a remake of the Spanish film La Casa Muda, and it boasts being a film that runs on a long continuous take from start to finish. In reality, there were about 13 separate shots carefully edited to form that take.

Elizabeth Olsen (younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley) stars as Sarah, who is helping her father and uncle repair their old lake house, which is all boarded up. While packing things in the dark, Sarah hears noises and suspects someone else is in the house with them. Before long, she has to deal with an unknown assailant stalking her in the dark, with no way to escape.

Directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau do a pretty good job of raising the tension as the film plods along. They successfully do so by putting us in Sarah's shoes as the camera follows her everywhere in the dark, flipping back and forth between occasional noises like footsteps and creaking doors, and just plain silence. It makes you edgy, waiting for the next surprise to come from any direction you haven't thought of yet. Using the darkness as a scare tactic is reminiscent of Quarantine, except Silent House is far quieter.

Elizabeth Olsen deserves plenty of credit for carrying the film almost entirely by herself. Her portrayal of fear and terror is very believable. Needless to say, she is a better actress than her more famous twin siblings.

But this film isn't just a straightforward thriller, as a third act surprise almost turns the entire film on its head. Just when you think you've figured it out, you haven't.

The film isn't without flaws though. There are a few moments when you can sense a lack of urgency sneaking in. The ending itself is a tad ambiguous as well.

Silent House is a solid thriller capable of scaring anyone who's ever been afraid of the dark, and maybe even those who aren't. On the whole, it's quite watchable. (3.5/5)

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