After her explosive career performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene last year, one
would think Olsen would have chosen a better follow-up than some insufferable horror
film. Silent House is a nearly silent film that is made to look like one long continuous
shot, trying to capture real time from the moment we see our lead female to the final
frame. Of course this would be near impossible for a 90 minute film, but the 10 minute
segments are hidden very well. There is less than a full page of dialogue in the
entire movie, which means the audience must fight to stay awake while we watch this
girl walk very slowly from one room to another, searching for stuff we don’t understand
and, apparently, neither does she.
Sarah (Olsen) is with her father (Adam Trese) and her uncle (Eric Sheffer Stevens)
at their lake house cleaning up the place after numerous break-ins. Sarah is supposed
to be helping pack up her room but seems to be in a daze. She meets an old friend
that says they grew up together, but Sarah doesn’t seem to remember her. Sarah keeps
thinking she hears movement in the large old house and then cannot find her father.
Sarah sees shadows and movement and becomes very paranoid that someone is trying
to kill her and her father. Sarah cannot find the key to get out of the house for
help, the power is off and the phones don’t work.
Writer and director Laura Lau and co-director Chris Kentis portray Sarah as one
of the dumbest anti-feminist characters I have seen on screen in a long time. She
is as weak as a dishrag and moves like she is in slow motion. At 85 minutes in running
time, 60 of those minutes are spent boringly with Sarah creeping around various floors
in the house, hiding under furniture and trying to escape these men she thinks she
sees. We don’t really know anything about Sarah, the house or the family because
the script isn’t intelligent enough to feed us that info. Boredom sets in very quickly
with all the silence and stupidity this film lays out.
An entire plot attempts to surface with only 15 minutes remaining, but by that
point I can’t imagine anyone would care what happens to pathetic, whimpering Sarah
or her father and uncle. Silent House spends an hour presenting questions and giving
no answer until the final minutes and tries to wrap everything up. Olsen, who showed
true promise with MMMM is more annoying on camera than anyone I have seen all year
long. I found this film without artistic merit, entertaining quality or any reason
to watch it whatsoever. Final Thought – Impossibly slow, boring and uninteresting.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Dr. Donna Copeland’s
A young woman (Elizabeth Olsen as Sarah) seems to have an easygoing relationship
with her father (Adam Trese as John) at their family lake house, which they are preparing
to sell. John’s brother Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens) is on the scene, and the two
bicker about the repairs, and Peter leaves in a huff. The power is out, and they
must use lanterns to move about the large two-story house with a basement. Elizabeth
hears disturbing noises, and John searches upstairs, smiling slightly at times, and
reassuring her that there is nothing to be concerned about. He leaves her in charge
of packing, complaining that she should have accomplished more by now. She hears
more noises and calls out to him, but he doesn’t answer. When she goes to find him,
there are more noises and crashes, and she gets glimpses of a stalker.
This action goes on for way too long and eventually becomes tedious, with Sarah
terrified, breathing heavily (nonstop) and trembling, with more and more despairing
expressions on her face. She is trapped inside the house and desperately tries every
way she can to get out. In the process she makes alarming discoveries, which terrify
her even more. Her uncle does return at one point, but true to his character seen
earlier, he doesn’t listen to reason and gets his gun, with the assumption that squatters
have invaded the home.
This is a film that starts out being scary and pulls the viewer right in. We get
to know enough about the characters to begin to see them as real people with frustrations
typical of those trying to get a house ready for sale. Certain set-ups are thrown
out to further the intrigue—photos quickly hidden, a strange encounter with a neighborhood
woman who was a childhood playmate of Sarah’s, the father’s weird smile when they
are investigating suspicious noises upstairs. Yet, the desperation and plodding
through the house goes on for so long, the story sags in the middle. Finally, a
bathroom scene gives us clues about what is going on, but comes too late to tie in
most of the story with the grand finale ending.
Apparently, this is a remake of Uruguayan Gustavo Hernandez’ 2010 film, La Casa
Muda. Both were reportedly filmed in one continuous real-time shot, which is supposed
to lend an eerie reality to the drama. But at least in this version, some artful
editing would have improved the flow. Elizabeth Olsen’s considerable talent shines
through once again and carries the movie to a great extent. The other two main actors
are less convincing.