Silent House – 2012
Directed by Chris Kentis, Laura Lau
Starring Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross, Haley Murphy, Adam Bennett
Written by Laura Lau based on the Uruguayan screenplay by Oscar Estevez
Silent Househas a promising premise: a single shot horror film in real-time. The story is that of a young woman named Sarah (Olsen), working with her father (Trese) and uncle (Stevens) to restore a Victorian style house, getting it ready to sell. After meeting a mysterious girl at the front porch, there is a contrived dispute between her father and uncle, who heads into town. Sarah is left in the house alone with her Dad. Soon she hears some strange noises upstairs in the house, and she and her father go up to investigate. Before long, her father is mysteriously incapacitated and she is running for her life from a mysterious stalker and a little girl.
Olson does a great job of adding the silent aspect to the terror. There are many scenes in which she battles with the lack of light, lack of access to an exit, and her own fear, trying her best to maintain silence as she searches for clues. One problem persists with her performance, though, and it has little to do with her acting. For some reason, someone decided that a thin tank top is right attire to wear in a house with no lights and much construction going on. The result is an almost unobstructed look at her bra-less chest line during some of the most intense moments. It was as incomprehensible as it was distracting from the performance of a promising young actress.
Similarly, the plot is remarkably obvious from the first moments throughout. As if early hints aren’t enough for you, they literally have them dropped on the floor during the lead up to the last act. It helps to completely unravel what tension the first half of the film produces. By the end, one has the task of trying to keep from laughing…and from looking at Olsen’s chest.
The film continuity is a valiant effort, and ultimately adds to the enjoyment. There were, according to the directors, about 12 cuts overall. It gets a bit more interesting as more characters drop in and out. It makes one wish that more filmmakers would attempt challenging themselves this way. Only next time, make certain other aspects a bit less obvious.
(*** out of *****)