For Reel

Silent House (2011)
March 18, 2012, 9:11 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Director(s): Chris Kentis & Laura Lau

Silent House premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival alongside Martha Marcy May Marlene, leading many bloggers to christen the event as a coming-out party for the gifted Elizabeth Olsen. After the good graces she earned with art house audiences following her performance in Sean Durkin’s compelling psychological thriller, it is unfortunate that her first mainstream attention will come in the form of such dreck. Remade from a 2010 Uruguayan film, Silent House is the typical scary house horror picture with the added gimmick that it is designed to appear as a single take. One might assume that the approach would be employed to find chills through its uncompromising naturalism, however the increasingly surreal plot and an invasive score take away from any sense of realism. At least the tired found footage horror films have enough sense to use mostly ambient noises and sounds – here, the dread-inspiring screeching violins reveal that the filmmakers weren’t confident enough with the aesthetic and instead settle for manufacturing suspense in the laziest of means. A film in which one stares at Elizabeth Olsen for the entire run time can only be so bad – and, indeed, she fares well enough in the thankless role of depicting various stages of hysteria. It is a shame that her co-stars are so lousy, though, and the script does none of them favors: “You’re such a loser. You pretended to be dead and then you attacked me!” The clues leading to the final reveal are written in bold, and by the time it arrives one still feels abused. When this type of trash uses sensitive material as the means for its terror and ultimately leads to a misjudged revenge fantasy climax, one can’t help but leave the theater feeling not terrified, but deeply offended.


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