Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
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8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Silent House

Continuous Tension and Terror

Rated: R Disturbing violent content and terror.
Release Date: March 9, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 26 mins

Director:  Chris Kentis, Laura Lau
Writers: Laura Lau, based on the film by Gustavo Hernández
Cast:  Elizabeth Olsen, Adam trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross, Adam Barnett, Haley Murphy

SYNOPSIS: While clearing out their belongings and making repairs at their lakeside retreat cottage, a father, his daughter, and her uncle encounter strange noises inside the boarded up house. Unable to make contact with anyone outside the house, things good from bad to worse as the noises become something more sinister.

REVIEW: Chris Kentis, writer and directer of Open Water, reteams with Open Water cinematographer and producer Laura Lau. Taking a screenplay from Lau based on the original film La casa muda (The Silent House) by Gustavo Hernández which, in turn, is based on a true event from 1940's Uruguay. Filmed as a single take camera shot for the entirety of the film, Silent House is a technical achievement worthy of discussion. The real question is whether the film holds up as a horror suspense thriller. 
Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene) tries to help her father John (Adam Trese, 40 Days and 40 Nights) and uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julie & Julia) by packing up boxes and filling garbage bags with their belongings from a lakeside retreat house that had fallen into disrepair  and endured acts of vandalism. With all of the windows boarded up with plywood and all but one entrance padlocked, the inside of the house is dim, dusty and victim to water damage and mold. When Peter leaves to go to town, Sarah is visited by a strange girl her own age, Sophia (Julia Taylor Ross, Rookie Blue) that she doesn't remember knowing. Later, she starts hearing creaks and banging from the second floor of the house, prompting her to persuade her father to reluctantly check out the upstairs rooms. When the noises quickly move from harmless house settling to a possible shadowy intruder with a perchance for a dangerous and violent game of cat and mouse, Sarah struggles against her fears and panic to protect her father and keep herself alive.

Starting as a shaky down-panning shot of Sarah sitting on a outcropping of rock in the lake, the cinematography follows Sarah as she walks back to the house and meets up with her father at the house's driveway. They move inside the house with the camera following close behind. After a couple brief stints of establishing dialogue between John, Sarah and Peter, the film quickly moves on to disturbing noises that set off a chain reaction of events that test Sarah's limits of inner strength and sense of survival. The difference between the camera work in Silent House and some of the other more recent popular horror suspense films like Paranormal Activity 3 and The Devil Inside is that the camera is not part of the story. Shot in the third person instead of the first person where the cameras and cameraman are actual characters in the film, Silent House uses the camera as a floating historian of the event as it follows Sarah through her eighty-five minute ordeal in high psychological terror. Expertly shot as a single take that has not a single edit (although there are two moments where edits could have occurred, including a harrowing attempt at escape through a padlocked cellar door and during a scary blackout with only a Polaroid camera flash for illumination), Silent House raises the tension levels quickly and keeps them elevated throughout the rest of the film.

Elizabeth Olsen, younger sister to Mary-Kate and Ashley, stepped out from behind her famous and wealthy silbings' shadows with a notable performance as Martha in Martha Marcy May Marlene in 2011 and continues with a gripping performance as Sarah in Silent House that establishes her as a young actress to keep an eye on. As the story unfolds, Olsen, in real time, embodies the terror and paranoia that accompanies a locked house with one or more menacing interlopers bent of mayhem and violence. The movie is essentially a one-woman show, with the camera following Sarah faithfully while losing sight of both Peter and John throughout the tale. The physical and emotional toll of the performance surely added to the grueling and edgy final result on screen.

For the true fans of the genre, Silent House is a cross between Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman's The Strangers and Cécile De France's French import High Tension. I certainly appreciated the technical efforts displayed in the film, as well as the finished product brought to full realization. Several well placed surprising moments made many in the audience scream outright, while others were mildly amused by the film and the outspoken fellow moviegoers. Silent House is worth a look if you are truly a completist for horror suspense movies.

Silent House is a claustrophobic, edge of your seat, cat and mouse, thrill ride full of good scary surprising scares, twists and creeps, corner stoned by a superior performance by Olsen. As Olsen's Sarah falls down the rabbit hole, we are swept along to watch her descent into possible madness and doom. Just be sure to remember your own way out of the house. 

WORTH: Matinee or DVD (for the fans)


  1. I didn't think it was a bad flick. Cool thriller flick. I gave it a 3/5 on my blog.

  2. I think that alot of moviegoers looking for some quick scares weren't sure what to make of the film. The single camera take, the clever scares, the surreal last act, and Elizabeth Olsen's performance made it worthwhile for me.