Published on March 10th, 2012 | by dvdpinson0
What awaits in the Silent House?
As you sit covering your face watching “Silent House” through slits between your fingers it is easy to be impressed by Elizabeth Olsen. The story is presented in “real time,” making for a near continuous 90 minute sequence in which Olsen has the camera strapped to her head as she creeps around a house persued by the unspeakable. She spends most of the movie it a state of shock and fear and never is the performance forced or repetitive. You believe you are in that house with her and that someone (or something) will reach out of the dark and pull you into the void.
As arresting as Olsen may be the superstar here is actually the man who strapped the camera to Olsen’s pretty little head: Igor Martinovic. The cinematographer, know mostly for his documentary efforts, “Man on Wire” and “The Tillman Story” to name a few, pulls off a remarkable feat that is a true cinematic magic trick. By removing any (noticeable) edits, the tension is relentless and “Silent House” becomes an immersive experience that transports you better than any 3D film could ever dream to accomplish.
Sarah (Olsen) hasn’t been to her family’s lakeside vacation house for quite sometime. From the looks of the place, it seems that no one else has either. The windows are boarded up tight and black mold grows along the ceilings and festers in the walls. Sarah has come to the ramshackle home to pack and clean with her father, John (Adam Trese) and uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens), so that they can sell the neglected homestead.
The power is cut off from the house and the darkened rooms are filled with furniture shrouded in sheets and stacks of cardboard boxes. After a bizarre visit from Sophia (Julia Taylor Ross), a forgotten childhood friend, things quickly turn to frightening and foreboding. Boards creak and doors slam shut. When John goes missing it becomes clear that Sarah is not alone. Something has been waiting for Sarah and now she must face it if she wants to live.
“Silent House” succeeds at the core of what a horror movie should be: It is scary. The presentation is not a gimmick here, the long takes enhance the tension and never lets you put your guard down. It is exhausting!! The music is slight and ominous, only adding to the intensity.
While Martinovic pulls off impossible feats with his camera, directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau (who also wrote the screenplay), should receive just as much credit for staging the elaborate shots that make up “Silent House”. While there are times that the camera juggles and spins around to hide obvious transitions, the overall effect is seamless. You forget to be conscience of the filmmaking after awhile and are left with a sensation of “living” the film along with poor Sarah.
“Silent House” is actually a remake of a Uruguayan film entitled “La Casa Muda” which, amazingly, translates to “The Silent House”. That film uses the same technique of the continuous shot. The plot is apparently based on a true story that occurred in a small village in Uruguay but according to my research (meaning: I googled it) this is probably just an urban legend as no real reports exist.