Drama (Horror, Thriller)
Running Time: 86 minutes
Running Time: 86 minutes
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen
Directed By: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau
Rating: 3 out of 10
A young woman is staying at an isolated house by a lake when an unknown intruder chases her around the place.
I never like to rip on a movie that tries to be original but there is much not to like about Silent House. A film with silent in the title screams of amateurish execution and a poor ending. Silent House is the story of a girl named Sarah. She is staying at her family’s lakeside house and things seem to be going fine. That is until she hears some unexplained noises coming from the house and she quickly realizes that she is not alone.
The film introduces us to Sarah and to the house where her ordeal is about to take place. The house is under major renovations so the electricity is turned off and all the windows are boarded up and locked. It is a place where the viewer can easily visualize murder and torture even if it is a smaller locale. The film though is a tired example of a way too built up thriller. Sarah’s uncle seems weird and overly friendly as he leaves the house to find an electrician. One of Sarah’s childhood friends also stops by the house and instantly she becomes creepy and very intent on hugging. It is suppose to add to the suspense but it doesn’t work. The film doesn’t really get going until Sarah investigates some strange sounds coming from upstairs. What occurs next is a confusing tale of Sarah running from an unknown intruder all over the house. It has some moments but mostly this film is just boring. The original aspect of this film that I was talking about above, is it was shot using a real time filming technique. This movie has no cuts so it is one continuous shot for 86 minutes to try and provide a sense of realism. (They filmed the movie in 10 minute segments and then blended the cuts so you couldn’t see it.) The result of this camera technique is a weary nonstop motion of poorly shot scenes. As Sarah investigates the house and ultimately runs from the unknown intruder, the viewer is inundated with a constant stream of nauseous circling camera work. Couple that with a shaky camera when things get hectic and one wonders why they bothered with this style at all. The film ultimately comes off as a found footage horror even if they were going for something new.
Funny story is when I was first introduced to Sarah I instantly said to myself “easy Ashley Olsen mixed with Maggie Gyllenhaal.” Of course now that I am writing this review I found out it is actually the Olsen twin’s younger sister Elizabeth. I am unfamiliar with any of her prior work but I thought she did a decent job with this character. She conveys fear when she is in some tight spots and she is able to connect with the viewer making you want her to escape this murder house. The Sarah character itself is not very good though. She never thinks to grab a weapon until half way through this movie; she picks terrible hiding places, and never really thinks things through with anything she does. All that and she wears a shirt that the camera always seems to shoot down. The shirt makes Jessica Biel’s shirt from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre look like a nun’s outfit. Overall Elizabeth does a good job even though her character traits are so weak.
Ultimately this movie should be about the frights and the blood and it is never forth coming. Sure there is the odd scene of a hand grabbing at Sarah or the intruder being just around the corner from her hiding spot, but the film never hits any level of scariness one would hope for. She runs around the house and clearly there is something more than the story is telling us. Sarah makes awful decisions, the intruder seems somewhat uninterested in her, and unexplained things occur all over the house without a reasonable explanation. When the end of the film comes and they try and explain why the intruder is stalking her and also why all the strange happenings are occurring, it will impress no one. Sarah runs, she jumps, she hides, and she screams but nothing she does makes this a viable horror.
Directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau tried something new and it is unfortunate it didn’t work. The film seems to build and build but never really goes anywhere. Sarah is a young woman in a scary house and they failed at every opportunity to capture the viewer’s attention. The unique camera technique is terrible and frankly off putting. Their faith in Elizabeth Olsen was rewarded but that is about it. The story is fairly predictable when all is said and done and the payoff is not worth the wait. There is little to praise but I applaud their attempt at something new.
I cannot recommend this film as the circling camera will give you sea sickness.
T Factor + If you like found footage films then this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you like your horror/thriller bloody and gory than this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Strangers, Gothika.