Silent House is the latest horror film to hit the ground running with promises of "88 minutes of thrills, chills and 'one continuous shot'."
Well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad.
Written by Laura Lau and directed by Lau and Chris Kentis, Silent House is a re-imagining of Gustavo Hernandez's "La Casa Muda", based on events in a Uruguayan village in the 1940's (that if I told you what they were, you wouldn't even bother seeing the film (because it basically would spoil the whole thing for you) and being the team that brought us Open Water, I went in thinking "Okay, there could be some good stuff happening here."
The film centers on Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) and the wacky, wild, Kool-Aid style things that occur over the course of an evening while clearing out the old summer home with her dad and uncle. There's no steady-cam shots here so when she runs down the stairs, so does the camera. If you're prone to motion sickness, I'd recommend Dramamine or a sea band before you head in, haha.
WARNING: HERE BE (POTENTIAL) SPOILERS.
The film does a GREAT job of building suspense and spooky moments (there's a GREAT sequence that reminded me of the old game "Fatal Frame") and if you can get past the mediocre acting of Olsen's co-stars (Eric Sheffer Stevens, who plays Uncle Peter is boring as EFF), it's a grand 'ol scare of a time…
…but at around minute 68, it starts to fall flat and extremely overpacked with stuff that not only bummed me out because it seemed really tacked on at the end AND reminded me of a certain tv show I used to watch on Showtime (which I would tell you the name but again, it would ruin the whole film for you).
YES, it's shot in real time BUT despite previous claims that it's one continuous shot IS NOT and this is what bothers me. Lau decided to re-shoot the last 15 minutes of the film after its Sundance screening which REALLY makes me want to see the original ending; it seems Lau second-guessed herself and this is why we got this alternate ending.
But I completely respect her for trying because there are NOT enough female writer/directors in the Horror industry and she really, REALLY went for it. Only problem is the film collapsed under the weight of the last 20 minutes.
One more thing - Elizabeth Olsen is the saving grace of this film; completely engaging and believable. I was blown away and am quite impressed to know that this is her first official film AND was quite successful in keeping the audience right there with her (even AFTER it all fell apart). I would see a film if I knew she was in it - THAT'S how much I like her.
Should you see this film? If you have a date who scares easily or just looking for some good ol'fashioned fun, absolutely - but don't be surprised if you say "Really?" when it ends. After that, go find the original and see how much they differ (they do, A LOT).
I know it seems like I've been vague in my review but trust me, you're better off going in knowing nothing beyond what you've seen in trailers (see below) - you'll have a better time for it.
I would watch it again but I'd really wanna see it with the original ending.
2.5 out of 4 stars.
Silent House opened nationwide on March 9th.