Movie Review ~ Silent House

The Facts:

Synopsis: Trapped inside her family’s lakeside retreat, a young woman finds she is unable to contact the outside world as events become increasingly ominous in and around the house.

Stars: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens

Director: Chris Kentis & Laura Lau

Rated: R

Running Length: 85 minutes

Random Crew Highlight:  Script Clearance – Carol A. Compton

TMMM Score: (6.5/10)

Review:  After I saw this movie I was out with friends and one asked me about it.  The other friend said, “What movie was that again?”  The first friend said “It’s that horror movie with the Olsen sister than can act.”  Actually…that’s a pretty good description.

Much like Daniel Radcliffe in The Woman in Black the success of this remake of a 2010 Argentinean film starts first and foremost with its star.  The movie is pretty much all Olsen and if we aren’t taken in with her the movie would have been in serious trouble.  Thankfully, Olsen is incredibly watchable and handles this material and concept nicely.  She’s in charge of moving the film along and does so with wide terror filled eyes that never telegraph what’s coming next. 

The film develops in real time and for 90 minutes or so the audience is an over the shoulder observer at the strange goings on in her decaying family home.  While some ads have said the film was done in one continuous shot I’m more thinking it was done in 4 or 5.  True, there are long spanses of time where there is no cutting and from a technical standpoint it’s hard not to be more than a little impressed with what everyone involved has accomplished.  With the long takes the film starts to feel like an extended trip inside a haunted house…or  The Haunted Basement for all you MNs reading this. 

Working with a fixed set, timeframe, and plot it does take about 10-15 minutes or so to feel orientated to the style of the film.  In that time directors Kentis and Lau (who also made the tense Open Water) show us the entire house and introduce us to the characters.  Pay attention to these moments because they will help you later on as the secrets of the house are revealed.  It’s almost like they are drawing a map for you visually that you have to keep at the back of your mind to help figure out where in the house you are.

All horror movies hinge on the ‘big reveal’ and once that happens it can signal the end of the fun and a countdown until the lights come up.  Unfortunately, for this viewer, once Silent House reaches that point it started to unravel a bit too fast in my book.  Echoes of other movies started to ring in my mind.  I can’t say what those are here because doing so would give away too much.  Suffice it to say that the journey to the answer is relatively spooky and involving but once the answer is given my interest waned quickly. 

Still, from a stylistic standpoint and for all you lovers of scary flicks out there this is one you’ll want to have a look at.  It’s not filled with a lot of ‘gotcha’ moments but relies on a genuine build up of suspense to unleash the goosebumps on the audience.  It’s a worthy effort.

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