|31 Days of Horror, Day 7|
Silent House begins with Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) helping her father (Adam Trese) and uncle (Eric Sheffer Stevens) fix up their family's old vacation home. Well, maybe "helping" is too strong of a word; she is wandering around while daddy and uncle are renovating the house. Their whole extended family used to use the place from time to time, but it has been years since anyone has stayed there --- and it shows! Every window is broken and boarded up, the electricity's been off for years (don't worry, though, the electrician is coming on Monday), and the walls are cracking and show signs of water damage. Shortly after daddy uncovers a huge mold problem in the basement drywall, the pleasant (if boring) renovation project gets put on hold.
|Silent House: a better title than "Moldy Basement"|
|Alternate explanation: he had a third shot of tequila and...floor. Just like the T-shirts say!|
|I don't know if assuming the crash position is the best choice here|
I'm going to get this out of the way early. I did not like Silent House very much, but I thought Elizabeth Olsen was pretty fantastic. She is on camera for almost every single second of this film, and gave the best female horror performance I have seen in years. I only qualify the gender because most female horror leading roles are shallow and obnoxious; it's not the fault of the actresses in many instances, but the material simply isn't that good. The part of Sarah isn't anything spectacular, but Olsen captured everything she needed to in this performance. When she had conversations, she was likable; when she was screaming, she sounded scared; when she was trying to stay quiet to avoid being murdered in the dark, she looked absolutely terrified. It was just a surprisingly plausible performance.
Julia Taylor Ross also has a small part, but the nature of the character lent itself to being expressionless, so I'm not sure how good she actually was. She looked blank easily enough.
Silent House is a remake of the Uruguayan film La Case Muda ("The Silent House"). The film is co-directed by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, and is the first movie either has made since the similarly themed Open Water; while only one of these movies had sharks as the villains, both were based on isolation and a single, horrible realization. The first thing you notice about Silent House is the editing. There doesn't appear to be any.
|No wonder she looks stressed|
"Interesting" doesn't always mean "good," though. While I really liked a lot the filmmakers did in Silent House, there was oftentimes a poor choice that balanced things out. The camera work looked excellent when there was little action on the screen, but it got jumbled whenever Sarah would get frightened and moves quickly. That makes sense in found-footage movies (like The Blair Witch Project), but the cameraman is not a character in this film. That means that there is no explanation for why the camera gets flustered when she does, which means that the choice to do that was stupid. It's just sloppy work, stylistically. I also found the choice in costume odd for Sarah. She is supposed to be renovating a dirty old house, so what does she wear? Old jeans and a ratty shirt? Nah. She chooses a thin tank top, a thin cardigan, a skirt and tights.
|What would you wear to clean the blood off of floors?|
|My sentiments exactly|
|The light represents her mind, while her cleavage represents...um...boobies?|
Silent House definitely has a lot of problems. Far too many to recommend it. That's too bad, because there are some pretty impressive ingredients in this film. Elizabeth Olsen was excellent, the "one take" cinematography trick was interesting, and I thought the filmmakers accurately captured the fear that would come with a home invasion. Unfortunately, the payoff is so terrible that all that good work is wasted.