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Silent House – 5

Director – Chris Kentis, Laura Lau

Cast – Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross, Adam Barnett, Haley Murphy

Release Year – 2012

Reviewed by John of the Dead

My experience for Silent House was exactly the way I desire to watch every horror film…BLIND.  I only heard of this American remake of the 2010 Uruguay effort, The Silent House(which I have not seen), just a few days ago and went into this effort without ever seeing a trailer or even reading what the film was about.  I aim for this because it allows me to go into the film without any expectations whatsoever, and while it usually helps me appreciate a film a bit more it was not enough to result in a pleasant experience for me.  While Silent House is a technical marvel that takes off amazingly well, it slowly burns into a predictable mess that I saw coming and wish I could have avoided.

While helping her father and uncle clean up the family’s lakeside retreat, Sarah(Elizabeth Olsen) begins to experience numerous ominous events going on within the home, and soon comes face to face with horrors she never saw coming.

The storyline follows the original for the most part as we follow Sarah reminiscing of the past while cleaning out the old mold-infested home she used to live in.  It does not take long before she begins hearing strange noises occurring within the home, noises that could not come from her father or uncle as they did their work.  Eventually terror strikes when her father is attacked by someone, and from then on out the storyline leads us on a tension-filled ride until the closing credits.  The first two acts of the film are incredible, leaving us in the dark over what is going on in the home, which I found very enjoyable given it kept us in Sarah’s shoes given she had no clue what was going on either.  She is chased within the home by a creepy and shadowy figure, but despite her best efforts she finds very little success in leaving the home – providing that nowhere to run scenario I love so dearly.  Sadly, the third act ruined everything the first two acts accomplished.  I began making my guesses for how the film would end or what the “twist” would be during around the end of the first act, and sure enough I was right…and disappointed.  I won’t go into too much detail on the twist for now (maybe when the film has been out for a while) but the fact is that I saw it as the most predictable choice, and in addition to that it detracted from the dark and gritty tone employed during the first two acts.  I honestly felt my hopes die out during this doomed final act as I saw what could have been a good storyline turn to a sour one.

Silent House comes to us with two directors, Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, and both are also responsible for a high-intensity film shot in the same format…Open Water.  Hollywood’s fascination with the POV filmmaking style ala Parnormal Activity, Cloverfield, etc., has plagued the industry these days, but Chris Kentis did it with Open Water, and he does it again with Silent House.  What did he do exactly?  He gave us IN YOUR FACE direction and cinematography that come off as if you yourself were closely following Sarah around.  I first took great notice to this filmmaking style with Kidnapped, and I found this tactic both highly engaging and very fun to watch.  The original film this is based on, The Silent House, was also shot in this filming style, so it was only fitting that Kentis employ that tactic and he did so with very good results.  I mentioned earlier that this flick is a technical marvel, and that is a direct result of the film being seemingly shot in one take.  Yes, ONE take.  There are no obvious cuts throughout the entire 90 minute experience, with the camera following our characters around corners and never once cutting away from what was going on.  Now, I find it very hard to believe that the film was actually shot in one take, which leads me to believe that there are some very soft and clever edits throughout the film.  Of course, what matters most is that the film “appears” to be shot in one single take – still an amazing feat.  Another thing that amazed me about the film was Elizabeth Olsen’s performance as Sarah.  As mentioned earlier, I knew nothing of the film before viewing this piece, so I was not informed that the lead actress was the younger sister to the “Olsen Twins”, and boy did she outdo both of her sisters in this one.  Her fear felt real, her cries were desperate, and for a film shot the way this one was it was incredible to watch her express such intense emotion on numerous occasions.  In addition to this I was impressed with Kentis’ execution of the horror and how he used his insane camerawork to fool the viewer and provide some good chills at times.  Most of the fault behind the film’s demise lies in the storyline, as even during the demise of the third act Kentis’ direction was still going strong.  My only gripes against his direction were a few scenes where we follow Sarah as she flees her potential captor, which due to the filming style made for some hard scenes to follow due to how shaky the camera was.  I literally had to look away from the screen to prevent a massive headache, but of course in the end I still wound up with that headache thanks to the storyline completely ruining this experience.

Overall, Silent House is another disappointment that starts off incredibly well but ultimately falters to a stupidly-written third act that destroyed the accomplishments brought on by Kentis’ direction.  The horror is great, tense,and most of the film is pretty enjoyable, but in the end I did not find this effort worth my time or my money.

Rating: 5/10

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