Silent House (Chris Kentis, Laura Lau) 2011

Silent House is a minimalistic horror film about young Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen).  She is helping to fix up a beach house with her father and uncle who are planning to sell it.  Sarah is soon trapped in the house and being hunted down by unknown intruders.

The first thing I will talk about is the thing everyone talks about which is the gimmick.  This movie is shown as one continuous shot even though in reality there are subtle edits every 10-15 minutes of the film.  Does it really add anything to the film?  I guess it makes you more aware that the events are happening in real time where edits can have you play around with time.  But that being said, this still didn’t need to be “one continuous shot“ and does come off as a cheap gimmick.

Much of this movie is carried by Elizabeth Olsen.  I truly mean carried as the camera is on her through the whole movie and she has to convey all the horror and fear and shock going through her character.  I’ve now seen her in this and Martha Marcy May Marlene and I definitely want to see her get more mainstream exposure.

If I have to give the directors credit, it is that they have confidence in what they are presenting.  Most of this movie could be dismissively boiled down to Elizabeth Olsen wandering around a dark house.  Really, that’s about it.  Sarah wanders around, we hear some bangs and creaks, and she runs away and cries some.  For the first thirty to forty minutes I was actually going along with it as I was appreciating the slow build.  But then the second act was more of the same and my anticipation to see how she eluded the killer turned to more annoyance as it seemed she was putzing around the house more to pad the run time than get away.

The third act things finally go off the rails and Sarah starts losing grip with reality.  This was a breath of fresh air although for me it was too late to start springing all that on us.  I’ve heard complaints about the ending although I guess I was in a good mood because I wasn’t as pissed off about it.  There is nothing about the twist which is particularly bullshit, but it is more uninspired than anything else.  It is a cliche that you can spot a mile away but the twist itself isn’t bullshit.

Silent House is a well made movie.  Elizabeth Olsen does a great job and to the directors credit, they almost make her wandering around an empty house interesting.  I can say I was mildly entertained watching this in the comfort of my home in the dark.  I would not want to ever watch it again and I don’t think I would recommend it either.  There isn’t enough in the story to get invested, the writing is so minimalistic it gets boring, and when we finally get to the horror elements you may have already given up on the movie.  It is a nice try, but everything in the movie comes up short.


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