The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Silent House | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Silent House

Directed by: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens

Olsen finds herself trapped in her family's lakeside retreat with strangers who seem to have attacked her father in this remake of the Uruguayan thriller "La Casa Muda".

The great thing about the advent of digital film-making is that now pretty much anyone with a camera can make a film. The awful thing about the advent of digital film-making is that now pretty much anyone with a camera can make a film. The main selling point of this movie is that it was shot in one continuous take. Of course it's not. To do so would be impossible on the camera used, the Canon EOS 5D, which can only shoot takes of no more than ten minutes length. The film-makers thus have to employ clever techniques to create the continuous take illusion. This they do quite well, but that's really all they get right. I found it quite dubious that this technique would be pushed in the movie's marketing as I doubt the average film-goer could give two hoots how a movie is shot. The Spanish language original employed the same technique and it would seem it was this gimmick that attracted directors Kentis and Lau to adapting it. I say gimmick because this is a ridiculous way to shoot a film and shows little respect to the material. Every moment of every scene in a script requires a different directorial approach and to use one technique for an entire movie shows laziness, lack of ideas, or in this case arrogance. Hitchcock admitted this after employing the technique to shoot "Rope". That movie is still a classic despite the fact he used it primarily as an experiment. It's also an outstanding achievement considering how difficult it was to move around 35mm camera rigs at the time. The choreography between camera, actors and indeed the set itself is spellbinding. "Silent House" is really no achievement as it's shot on a handheld video camera and has such a loose choreography that it feels improvised, as if the directors simply instructed the cameraman to just follow Olsen around. The end result resembles that staple of eighties British TV "Treasure Hunt With Anneka Rice". The cameraman struggles to keep everything in focus which is very noticeable and very annoying on a cinema screen.
This technique is ultimately the film's downfall as by constantly following Olsen's character we lose all suspense. In a good horror movie the editing would create the suspense as we would know just what it is our character should be fearful of. We can't scream "Don't go in the basement" if there's no reason for us to be afraid of the basement. 
It seems every other modern horror movie ends with one of two predictable "twists" (I'm sure you know the ones I mean) and this follows suit. Can we please put these to bed once and for all? The big revelation also ventures into territory that is unnecessarily dark for what should be a simple Friday night frightfest.
Olsen is far too good for this sort of rubbish but she really puts herself into the role and gives it a dignity the movie doesn't deserve. Her buxom figure is exploited so much that there are shots where her breasts are in sharper focus than her face. Just to make sure her supremely impressive cleavage is always visible she carries a lantern at chest height. Couple this with the bad video camerawork and you'd be forgiven for mistaking this for one of those porn ripoffs of a horror movie.
If the digital revolution means more films of this poor quality we are set for trying times indeed.