Perhaps making up for lost time (her last film was a tiny roll in her sisters’ 1994, How the West was Fun), Elizabeth Olsen spends almost the entirety of the 88-minute Silent House on the screen. In an ambitious move, that is actually pulled off rather well, the entire movie is presented as one long continuous shot. No cuts. No fuss. The camera follows Olsen around this old “Silent” house throughout the whole movie, where nothing is as it seems to be.
Let’s back up. The story sets up with a girl begrudgingly helping her father and uncle pack and clean out their old neglected vacation house so they can sell it. In the first 10 minutes, we have lots of (somewhat cliched) red flags. The house has no power and the windows are boarded up so it’s dark and creepy in there even in the middle of the day. Dad is just a little too perfect. Uncle is a tad on the creepy side. We have mention of a possibly stalkerish ex on Olsen’s Facebook page. An old and forgotten (and a bit too friendly) childhood friend stops by unannounced to catch up and talk about the old days.
Our heroine, Sarah goes inside to help pack and she starts hearing strange noises, people start disappearing, and there appear to be some strangers in the house. Are they ghosts? Are they squatters living in the abandoned house? Who’s to say? That’s not really the point anyway. The plot points throughout most of the film are fairly predictable and a few more cliches are thrown in there for good measure (using the camera flash in the pitch dark to see who or what is reaching for you).
The fear factor here is not really the plot, though there are some wicked suspenseful scenes. The point is the way it’s shot. You see what she sees. You go where she goes. The close point of view makes you feel her fear. Throughout the movie, there’s a claustrophobic feeling. You’re locked in the house with Sarah. She’s looking through a little crack behind the door and can’t quite make out who’s there. She’s stuck under the bed and there are feet walking back and forth just inches from her.
There is a twist at the end and ultimately I think it falls a little flat. However, the mood set by the environment, the score, and the camerawork definitely get the point across.
- Is it scary: 7- Good use of suspense to make this a pretty good scare. You’ll be looking over your shoulder if you hear any strange noises after watching this one at night.
- Originality: 5- Though it is a remake of a spanish film from the year before, the screenplay is written by the same guy so I’m going to give them a break on what would have been a lower score. Nothing groundbreaking about the plot. And like I said before, a bit heavy-handed with the horror cliches
- Blood: 6- THere weren’t really enough characters to rack up a respectable body-count but we did have some blood appearing out of furniture and whatnot so that helped a bit.
- Believability: 4. SHE RAN UP THE GODDAMN STAIRS. Ok, I get it she was locked in the house. But come on. Early on, the acting was sub-par but I’ll chalk that up to the whole one-take thing.
- Setting/Cinematography: 8- Pretty much all you could ask for here. This one is what made the movie.
Final Score: 30/50