A teenaged girl, her father and her uncle are renovating a vacation home they used to live in when she was much younger. There’s no electricity so candles and flashlights are a must. Possessions from their past litter every room, caked in dust. The family is fixing up the house in order to sell it, but is it safe to live in? No, I’m not talking about passing a home inspection. There are unexplained noises. A mysterious girl who claims to be the teenager’s childhood friend shows up and acts… odd. Items from the past reappear, while items from the present disappear. Is this a haunted house? A cruel joke perpetrated by young hellions looking to scare innocent people? Perhaps it’s all in the girl’s mind. This is Silent House.
Three things drew me to this indie film. The first was that the trailer looked pretty creepy. I’m sure my loyal readers now know that I am a sucker for a good “Hey, let’s go investigate that weird noise we just heard and possibly get us all killed” type movie. Side note to my loyal readers: Hi Mom and Dad. Hope you’re doing well. Back to the review at hand. The Silent House trailer had what a lot of horror films have: daunting music, a girl screaming, a girl running, a girl crying, a shadowy figure appearing in a doorway, and, just for good measure, they slapped an “inspired by true events” tag at the end. This is a remake of the 2010 Uruguayan film La Casa Mud, which also claimed to be based on true events, but there is no evidence of this. After viewing the trailer, I knew it was something I was going to see immediately. No waiting for it to come to DVD because…
In the trailer, you find out that the film was shot in one continuous take. That’s right. The film is 88 minutes long and they don’t cut away a single time. You don’t have to be a filmmaker to realize how incredibly difficult that must be. That means everybody (the actors, crew, assistants, directors, etc.) had to be on their A game for 88 minutes straight. No flubbed lines, no accidental hiccup attacks, no tripping up some stairs while filming a chase scene – It had to be perfect. I had to see this film as soon as it was released.
So I did. While I was watching it, though, I found myself becoming more obsessed with the continuous shot than what was actually going on in the movie. Several times I thought to myself, “Hey, the film looked weird there” or “It looked like there might have been a break there.” Turns out, I was right. The star, Elizabeth Olsen (Mary Kate and Ashley’s younger sister), admitted after the film’s release that the film was shot in about 12 to 15 minute intervals and then some movie magic was applied for it to only look like it had been shot in real-time. Those bast*rds.
The third reason I wanted to see it was Olsen. Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen have been celebrities almost since birth, but their actual talent is limited. I could act just as well as either of those twins and the closest I’ve ever come to acting was in an 8th grade musical about aliens invading a middle school. I played Jenny and, if I may say so, I was a very convincing Jenny. But anyway, I had read that there was actually an Olsen in that family who could act and it was Elizabeth. Since she is in literally every single scene of this film, there was no phoning it in for her. But can she really act? Yes. She did an outstanding job and had me guessing throughout the whole film what was actually going on (although, honestly, I figured out the ending around 20 minutes into the film), but still. I was impressed.
Is it another horror film set in a dark, spooky house where things go bump and you jump in the air? Yes. Does it star an attractive young woman who is being terrorized? Of course. Was it predictable in parts? You betcha. But if you’re a fan of horror movies, give it a go. There are definitely some scenes that made me squirm. When Olsen’s character is sitting underneath a table, hiding from whomever is in the house with her, and she opens her mouth to scream, but nothing comes out – you are right there with her. Those moments play well in the movie. Overall, though, it does fall a little flat mostly because of its predictability, but it is definitely worth 88 minutes of your real-time, I mean, time.