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Silent House - 7/5/2012 10:55:42 AM   
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silent house - 7/5/2012 10:55:42 AM   
Dr Lenera

 

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Sarah arrives at a lakeside Victorian house in the country with her father, John, and Uncle Peter, fixing it up in preparation for sale. The house is in disrepair from both vandals and natural causes; there is no electricity, all of the windows are boarded up due to having been smashed in, and there is a serious mould problem. After a surprise visit from someone named Sophia, who claims to be a childhood friend of Sarah’s but is not remembered by her, Sarah, alone in the house with her dad, hears strange noises upstairs and asks father to investigate. When he does not return, she embarks on a search for him and finds him knocked unconscious. Then she realises she is locked in the house….


Another day, another dollar, and yet another horror remake, this time of a Uruguayan movie la casa muda [The Silent House]. Now I have not actually seen the original movie; as someone who constantly has an ever growing list of films he needs to see, I just haven’t caught up with it yet. By all accounts this American version tweaks the ending, but is otherwise very similar. As I write this review, I actually feel quite pleased I haven’t seen the original production because otherwise half of this review may very well be comparing the two movies, and of course many readers will not have seen the Uruguayan picture anyway! So I will not mention that movie again, and just take this remake on its own terms.

What we basically have here is yet another use of that ofen used yet still often effective premise of someone being alone in a house with a killer [both versions of When A Stranger Calls used it pretty well], and really that’s it. The film is one big suspense machine, engineered to have you on edge right from about 15 minutes in when it’s just the heroine and her father in the house and he’s rendered out of action pretty quickly. Sudden loud bangs may succeed in making you jump and there is a great bit where the intruder appears at the end of a corridor with Sarah and John in the foreground not noticing him, then disappears in the next shot. Such effective Halloween-style stuff really leads one to believe that the film is building up to be something very scary indeed, but to be honest the edge dissipates somewhat as the premise is dragged out and dragged out and possibly supernatural hallucinations are thrown in which to me seemed unnecessary. Of course a really good filmmaker could maintain the tension at a high pitch throughout but Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, of Open Water, are just not quite good enough.

The final quarter blows it somewhat with a twist that of course I will not reveal but is basically the twists of three different horror movies made the last decade all rolled into one. Of course there is nothing automatically wrong with Big Twists but I really think that Silent House would have been better off with either something more original or no twist at all. We are left with lots of questions and that is often a good thing but there is a certain carelessness in the execution here and it seems that they thought it up rather too quickly. We also aren’t really given a thrilling climax, which is a distinct let down after the numerous struggles and chases in the middle of the picture. I was left with the feeling of a reasonably good horror movie for the first two thirds and a rather poor one in the final third, and sadly it is always the ending one thinks of first when coming out of the cinema. A good ending can sometimes partially save a weak movie, but a bad ending can ruin a good one!

Much has been made of Silent House being shot in one continuous take, though actually the directors have admitted that there were a few cuts in the film, cuts which to be honest I didn’t notice though there are several pans into darkness where cuts could easily have occurred. There have been a few other films shot this way, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope being the most famous, probably followed by Mike Figgis’s Timecode, though it seems that only one major film called Russian Ark actually is in one take. The lack of visible edits in Silent House does help the tension at times; you’re constantly looking for things on the screen, but the documentary style of the filming is annoying. It’s so documentary-like that you constantly expect Sarah to refer to the camera person following her around. Of course when there is rushing around the camera goes all ‘shaky cam’, a technique which, outside of ‘found footage’ movies, seems more and more like an excuse for bad filmmaking, though there isn’t as much of this in Silent House as I expected. Surely though, wouldn’t something like a Steadicam have been far more effective in these scenes, rather than the impression that a person with a camera suffering from epilepsy is running behind our heroine?

I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing Martha Marcy May Marlene but I know there was lots of praise for Elizabeth Olsen’s performance in the movie and judging by her impressive acting in Silent House she is easily the most talented of the Olsen sisters. She depicts being scared out of her wits really well and never misses a beat, an impressive feat considering how exhausting the shoot must have been. A special mention too for Nathan Larson’s subtle, ambient scoring. Rather than pummel you with sounds, the music just hovers in the background, ominous and creepy. In the end Silent House is one of those movies I cannot really make up my mind about. It doesn’t seem that it’s been liked much, but the basic concept is solid and portions of the film are done very well. Sadly though it never gets as scary as it seems it’s going to get, which means I think it will disappoint most horror fans. Then there’s of course the ending, so I would almost recommend that you leave two thirds of the way through….though that might just be me, having seen enough samey ‘twists’ to sink a battleship and getting a little tired of them

< Message edited by Dr Lenera -- 7/5/2012 10:58:43 AM >

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RE: silent house - 11/5/2012 12:57:15 PM   
nhassell


Posts: 237
Joined: 23/8/2009
Saw this last night. Thought it was alright, but the ending was shite.

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Evil Dead - ***

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- 31/5/2012 10:42:03 PM   
jackcarlin18

 

Posts: 88
Joined: 21/1/2012
very intense which is built from Olsen's performance but i think its too simp-licit which an unnecessary ending.

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