Silent House (2011)

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Overall Rating 52%
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Ranked #3,216
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Sarah returns with her father and uncle to fix up the family's longtime summerhouse after it was violated by squatters in the off-season. As they work in the dark, Sarah begins to hear sounds from within the walls of the boarded-up building. Although she barely remembers the place, Sarah senses the past may still haunt the home. --TMDb
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: March 20, 2012
How far can you stretch one gimmick? Evidently: 88-minutes.

"Silent House" is a remake (believe it or not) - a remake of a film from Uruguay called "La Casa Muda". I have not seen that film, nor do I plan to do so. It relies on the same gimmick as "Silent House" and, I expect, is fairly close to the exact same film though I assume somewhat better, as is the general case.

The gimmick in question is that "Silent House" presents itself as a film composed entirely of one continuous shot - no cuts whatsoever. Anyone with half a brain will realize halfway through the film that, as clever as they might be, the filmmakers have cheated and implored some age-old editing techniques to merely 'simulate' the effect of one continuous shot. There are cuts here, however disguised by doors, walls and darkness. Alfred Hitchcock attempted this same sort of gimmick with his film "Rope" which was composed of 10-shots, though he implored many of these same techniques to make it look like far less. The difference is that "Rope" had a plot that was interesting enough to surpass the gimmick as your point of attention.

The plot of "Silent House" involves a young girl, Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) who finds herself in an old house with her father, John (Adam Trese), and her uncle, Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens). Some strange things begin to happen in the house and Sarah finds herself trapped inside, pursued by an unknown entity. The big mystery here, of course, is - Who is after Sarah? I promise you - the revelation is neither groundbreaking nor very interesting especially when you've figured out the twist ten-minutes into the film. Any film that relies so heavily on a twist might want to better safeguard that secret. "Silent House" is too dumb to know better.

So, what we essentially get here is 88-minutes of Elizabeth Olsen going up the stairs and down the stairs, in the door and out the door, turning the lantern on and turning the lantern off - over and over and over again. Yes, Olsen is an engaging actress and she was terrific in "Martha Marcy May Marlene", but she is wasted here and given next to nothing to do but shriek and cry and whisper scream. And even she loses her momentum at the end of the film and really starts phoning in her performance. Maybe she's exhausted because this is, after all, one continuous take (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more). What a selling point.

This particular picture comes to us from Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, the filmmaking team behind the low-budget horror film "Open Water". That film also relied on a general gimmick to succeed but the story was far more interesting. "Silent House" is a lackluster follow-up and a confusing one. I can understand wanting to remake foreign horror films - but not ones that rely on a one-note trick to succeed. And, if you're going to remake it, do something different with it. Something. Anything. Otherwise you get what we have here, a failed experiment that succeeds only in testing the ever-fading patience of its audience. 2/10.
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