Silent House is yet another film that spoiled its potential. Despite some suspense-filled scenes and an interesting idea of portraying it as one shot, the finale was just dumb and when looking back at the movie as a whole, it doesn’t make sense. Elizabeth Olsen for her part was good and the first 65-minutes or so were great, but the ending spoiled it all.
Genre(s): Suspense, Thriller
Universal | R – 86 min. – $34.98 | July 24, 2012
Directed by: Chris Kentis and Laura Lau
Writer(s): Gustavo Hernandez (Film “La Casa Muda”); Laura Lau (written by)
Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens
Theatrical Release Date: March 9, 2012
Features: Commentary, BD-Live, DVD Copy, UltraViolet Digital Copy, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 24.3 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 2.75/5
MAJOR SPOILERS ABOUND
Based on the 2010 Spanish film, La casa muda, Silent House centers on a young woman named Sarah (ELIZABETH OLSEN) who is back at her childhood home helping her father (ADAM TRESE) and Uncle (ERIC SHEFFER STEVENS) clean up the dilapidated home to sell. The place, even during the day, has a strange aura about it with windows boarded up due to vandals, the electricity is sporadic at best, there are no working phone lines and, of course, cell phone coverage is apparently non-existent.
As work begins, Sarah begins hearing strange noises coming from an upper floor and begs her father to check it out. After doing a less than thorough search, they don’t find anything suspicious the two do some packing on that floor. While in her old bedroom going through some of her things, she hears a loud thud on the other side of the wall and calls out for her dad, who doesn’t answer. That’s when the chaos begins as she realizes that there might be somebody else in the house and now must run for her life. Unfortunately she needs a key, which normally is hanging next to the door, to get out but it’s missing. Try as she might, escape doesn’t seem to be possible and the stranger is out to get her.
That’s a really basic premise because, well, it doesn’t get more complicated, albeit the ending does get quite convoluted, but more on that in a bit. Silent House sells itself as being “presented in real time as one shocking, uninterrupted shot” and on that front directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau take an ordinary and quite frankly, boring idea and turn it into an excruciatingly suspenseful and intense thriller, the best I’ve come across in a long time. I was impressed with how seamless that “one shot” was done especially considering they were done in around 10-minute segments. I’m not a director but the cuts seem to be well done and not the typical kind where the camera pans through a wall or a floor.
Acting wise, the supporting cast are fine in their limited roles but the highlight once again is Elizabeth Olsen who is showing she is a force to be reckoned with. I don’t think she’s a budding starlet who will appear in high level releases like Sandra Bullock or Julia Roberts, but she’s found her niche in the independent or low budget realm turning in great performances even when the story might not be complete or mainstream. Here, she’s basically in every minute of the movie’s short 82-minute running time (minus credits) which is something to admire especially considering she spends a fair amount of it running, holding back screams, etc.
What’s not admirable about Silent House, on the other hand, is the ending. Stop reading if you don’t want to be spoiled… If you’ve seen A Beautiful Mind, Abandon or the far more apt comparison, High Tension, you know where this film finished. The problem I had with it are the same issues I had with HT that when you look back on the movie, it makes absolutely no sense on how much of it was even possible. We watch as Sarah witnesses such odd events going on including the knockout and dragging of her Uncle’s body but if what was revealed happened, how was this possible? Secondly, it’s also revealed how Sarah’s father got attacked and even that made no sense whatsoever; they don’t even answer why the father was attacked in the first place.
Funny how the last 10-minutes of a film can make or break it and in the case of Silent House, it nearly completely broke it. Despite a fine performance from rising star Elizabeth Olsen and some truly creepy and suspenseful scenes, none of it can overcome a rotten finale which not only makes little sense but seems only there for shock value which even then was hardly shocking. If this were instead a 45-minute episode of “The Twilight Zone” then I’d be OK with it, but as a feature, it’s hardly rewarding.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.0/5
Unfortunately the amount of features is light with only a commentary with co-director Chris Kentis and co-director/writer Laura Lau, a BD-Live portal, a DVD Copy and a Digital Copy, both for UltraViolet and the standard kind for iTunes and WMV.
Kentis and Lau provide insights into how the movie was made, working with the cast, the production design and other bits of trivia. Having the pair together does provide for a better track as they have great chemistry making for a fun but still informative. One interesting tidbit is that this house is located in New York City and is in the flight path of La Guardia Airport…
VIDEO – 3.75/5
Silent House is presented in 1080p high definition and in its original 1.85 widescreen aspect ratio. The picture isn’t the best I’ve come across because some scenes look a bit soft while others show off some nice detail levels. I have to assume that it was due to the multiple one-take shots used throughout the movie so it’s hard to adjust for any given light. Still, the black levels looked decent and the color array, for as much as there is, seemed to be spot on with what was shown in theaters.
AUDIO – 3.5/5
The disc has been given the standard (for Blu-ray anyway), 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. As with the video, it’s nothing noteworthy but it’s effective enough considering there’s not a whole lot to go on except for dialogue and creeks and cracks from other rooms. While it’s hardly going to knock your socks off, it’s still at least OK and allows for the suspenseful ambience to protrude through one’s home theater.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, Silent House is yet another film that spoiled its potential. Despite some suspense-filled scenes and an interesting idea of portraying it as one shot, the finale was just dumb and when looking back at the movie as a whole, it doesn’t make sense. Elizabeth Olsen for her part was good and the first 65-minutes or so were great, but the ending spoiled it all. The Blu-ray meanwhile offers up a good video transfer and serviceable audio but the features have much to be desired.