Almost a decade ago, filmmakers Chris Kentis and Laura Lau terrified audiences with their low-budget and low-tech film Open Water. This time around they take on Silent House, a remake of the Uruguayan film La Casa Muda, starring Sundance “it girl” Elizabeth Olsen. In this Americanized version, the camera gets up-close-and-personal with Olsen, following her every move for 88 uninterrupted minutes as she moves through a mysterious and creepy old house, packing up her old life into boxes. It’s a heart-pounding experience, and definitely not one for the fainthearted.
- Director: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau
- Writer: Laura Lau (screenplay), Gustavo Hernandez (based on the film by)
- Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese and Eric Sheffer
- Cinematography: Igor Martinovic
Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) returns with her father (Adam Trese) and uncle (Eric Sheffer Stevens) to fix up their family vacation home in the hopes of selling it. Soon after she begins to pack up her old stuff, Sarah hears noises from within the house and realizes they are not alone.
- Elizabeth Olsen: The whole movie rides on Olsen’s shoulders because for 88 ‘non-stop’ minutes, we’re right there with her, experiencing her fear. Fortunately Olsen, as we’ve seen before in Martha Marcy May Marlene, knows how to carry a film with very few words. It’s amazing to see how a relatively inexperienced actress can stay in character for such a long time and still give a compelling and emotional performance.
- Real Time (And The Technical): The big promotion here is the ‘One Shot’. Although the directors admitted to us (in our recent interview) that the film is actually a string of very long sequences, as a whole, it feels like it’s just one shot, and yet not at all–the camera travels from room to room and scene to scene without feeling like the camera never blinks.
- Powerful Tension: Kentis and Lau know how to create powerful tension in unique ways. This isn’t your typical over-edited horror movie (in fact, there’s very little editing here because everything was done while shooting). The tension can be felt from every angle; as Sarah’s paranoia escalates, the shots get tighter and the darkness spreads, creating a heart-pounding experience.
- Logic: Like any modern-day horror film, this one too has its flaws, mainly having to do with the characters’ illogical actions. Why is Sarah packing in the dark? Why is she walking towards the scary sounds? Why does she lock herself inside the house? Then again, if weren’t for Sarah’s faulty moves, there wouldn’t be a story to tell.
- Story: From the beginning, you can sense that something is not right. Sarah and her father appear to be strangers, and the conversations between her and her uncle are uncomfortable. There’s not much of a story or connection between the three, that is until the twist is revealed. The lack of connection between the characters makes the ending quite disappointing.
Like Open Water, Silent House was shot on a smaller budget and with a smaller crew, yet it doesn’t feel cheap. It’s a unique piece of work directed by two filmmakers who love to challenge themselves. Olsen’s performance is definitely worth watching, but by no means the only reason.
Silent House opens in select theaters on March 9, 2012.
Will you watch Silent House?