Silent House (2011) – Anybody Got A Light?
Did you know the Olsen twins had a little sister? And did you know that she can actually act? If you answered yes, well, then you have too much time on your hands. But if you’re like the majority of us and said no, you should probably check out Silent House.
Silent House stars Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene, Godzilla – 2014) as a young woman named Sarah who joins her father (Adam Trese), and her uncle Pete (Eric Sheffer Stevens), at their family vacation home somewhere in a rustic location away from civilization. And what that means, of course, is no internet or cell service available… gasp! The home has become rundown and the scene for many squatters and much vandalism, thus forcing them to board up the windows and padlock many of the doors. Wait for it… Oh, and the electricity has gone out, forcing the house to be completely dark, even during the day. [drops the microphone]
Sarah, her father and Uncle Pete are trying to get the house fixed up so they can sell it. Pete, of course, has the only vehicle and has to head into town for a bit. So Sarah is just hanging out while her dad works on the house. I know, I know, get to the good stuff. Trust me, these details are necessary. What was I saying? Oh yes, Sarah is just hanging around when a strange girl stops by the house. Sophia claims to have been a friend from many years ago, but Sarah doesn’t recognize her. However, she eventually agrees to go out with her later that evening. You know there’s something off about Sophia, so that sets your mind to thinking something dark is lurking… or at least you hope so because at this point you’re resisting the urge to look at your watch. But then, the fun begins once Sarah goes back into the house and cracks open a beer.
Sarah hears a strange noise upstairs, so the dad agrees to go investigate. Remember, the house is completely dark, so everywhere they go in this sprawling house, they require lanterns or flashlights. That becomes annoying after a while, but certainly adds to the chill factor. The real turning point is after Sarah becomes separated from her father and eventually finds him after his body falls on top of her. It appears he’s been either brutally stabbed or possibly beaten, but you think he’s left for dead. (see what I did there?) What happens from that point on is Sarah moves through the house and sees images of a man walking around the house and then later the image of a little girl pops up here and there. Without giving away too much of the story’s crux, we are left with an hour of Sarah wondering around the house, trying to escape, which she does. But only to return to the house with her uncle who tries to find the father. Then weird shit starts to happen until we come to the final scene where everything is revealed.
The directors of this film, Chris Kentiz and Laura Lau, shot it in real time. So the film certainly feels like it was captured in one take. Impressively, the camera continuously follows Sarah throughout the movie, with the occasional pan away to images in the room or to one of the other characters, but never breaks away from her. In fact, the camera work is some of the more impressive cinematography I’ve seen in a while. It’s very shaky at times, and the constant darkness does start to become a bit annoying, but overall it’s unique and I quite liked it.
You won’t find a lot of special effects, or a tremendous amount of blood and gore. But what you will find is a constant tension throughout the movie that is surprisingly gripping. The directors did a nice job of keeping you waiting. There are a few accidental frights here and there, but not enough to become campy. And let’s face it, Elizabeth Olsen does an amazing job convincing the audience that she is truly terrified. The ending is something that’s been done before. But it actually works in this movie. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with Silent House. Will it appease the die hard horror fans? Probably not, but it’s a good one to rent if you’re on a date and the Drakkar oozing from your pores isn’t enough to garner some close canoodling. If you like the suspense genre, this movie is definitely for you. If nothing else, Elizabeth Olsen has the potential to be a breakout star with roles in the upcoming Godzilla and Avengers movies due out later this year and next respectively. So if you miss Silent House, then you might not be fortunate enough to see her in another horror movie. And that, folks, would just be a shame.