I wanted to review “Silent House” for three reasons. 1) I loved the idea of it when I first heard it, as far as the shooting style goes. 2) I’d never seen it before. 3) Everyone seemed to really dislike it after it got released. So here it goes.
The film’s plot is not all that unique for the genre. A girl (Elizabeth Olsen) is packing up an old house with her father. She hears creepy noises, her dad goes missing and then she has to resolve the whole thing while running around the house in the dark. Nothing too out-there for a horror film.
There are bright spots, though. Olsen, who displayed some great acting chops in “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” is fantastic in the main role. Especially considering it’s a horror film, not really a genre known for grabbing Oscars. She really digs into the scenario of being alone in a dark house with all these scary things happening and she runs with it. Since she is the only person onscreen for 90% of the film, it rides on her performance.
What really got me excited about this film during its production was the idea of one continuous shot for 90 minutes. It reminded me of guys like Hitchcock who made similar stylistic choices (“Rope” is a good one to watch, although I think it has 2-3 shots). Just imagine how drastically different the process has to be when it’s all one big take, rather than adjusting the set every 2 hours. I think it probably helped Olsen with her performance too.
Since the audience only has one viewpoint throughout the film, scary moments felt scarier. It was easier for the filmmakers to hide something from the audience and then have it appear at the last moment. One thing that always makes me appreciate a horror film is if I can identify with what’s happening onscreen. Having walked through a dark house late at night before, this movie had me on the edge of my seat.
There’s usually one moment in horror films where the audience becomes completely divided: the twist. In this film, I think it will play a big factor in whether or not you consider it to be worth your time. The conclusion to “Silent House” isn’t new or too creative, but it felt like it was handled well for what it was. Up until this point in the film, things were definitely looking better.
“Silent House” is better than your average horror movie these days, but a weak plot and lazy writing keep it from being too memorable.