Film Review - Silent House
Developed from a Uruguayan film "La Casa Muda" by Gustavo Hernández, this remake is not just another 'haunted house' film but something a little more intense and disturbing. A simple premise turns in on itself to reveal a very tragic story
A young woman, Sarah and her Dad and Uncle are renovating their old lakeside retreat for sale. When the uncle takes a break to go to town, sounds are heard in the house. Investigations find nothing but Sarah, alone downstairs hears the sound of her father falling down the stairs. She panics and tries to leave but all the exits are locked and has to hide under a table from the unknown person who tries to grab her. She takes refuge in the basement only to find that it appears someone is living in the house and is searching for her. Escaping through the cellar door Sarah meets her uncle returning and together they go back to the house to attend to her father who they find has disappeared.
As they search the power goes off, the only light is provided by the flash on a handy Polaroid camera found in the billiard room. What follows is a slow tortuous journey into paranoia and psychosis, Sarah not sure if what she is seeing is real or imagined.
A young girl
An unidentified man
Sarah finds a lantern and continues to search for her uncle who she sees being dragged off by someone unknown.
Minute by minute the truth is revealed as Sarah scuttles around the house, now avoiding two males who have an obsession with Polaroid photography.
The final revelations will come as a bit of a shock to some and the brutality of the last few scenes is unexpected and horrifying but they allow us to breathe once more as Sarah leaves the house for the last time and we are left wondering if all this really happened and if it did, when did it happen?
Was this all real or was it all just fantasy?
The camera work is impressively smooth unlike other handheld shot movies like Cloverfield. Silent House uses the "single shot" technique that Hitchcock used for Rope, but with a caveat. Although it is in real time throughout the film was shot in 12/15 minute chunks then stitched together to give the appearance of a continuous long single shot. This does not detract from the film in any way, it only heightens the intensity of the terror seen in the superb acting of Elizabeth Olsen as Sarah. As you watch her scrabbling through this nightmare you become afraid for her and share the same "nappy crapping" (US translation - "diaper filling") moments she does.
The induced tension and fear instilled by the tight direction of Chris Kentis and Laura Lau are palpable in the extreme; you begin to want it to end, because you need the relief from the terror. Great lighting enhances the tension to a point where you just need the lights to come on.
Whatever you feel about the end it is still a powerful film that is extremely well made and does what a horror film should do...scare the crap out of you.
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