Directors: Laura Lau and Chris Kentis
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese and Eric Sheffer
Review Written By: Michael Dalton
Silent House’s principal flaws rest in the performances of its supporting actors, its repetitive nature and the lull in pace and intrigue during the second act, one that very much felt like padding and a bridge in-between the filmmakers set-up and their conclusion. Having not seen the original Uruguayan film, I am solely analyzing this film on its strengths and weaknesses and do not know whether to attribute these to what it is re-telling. Based on the story that I saw in this film, it feels like territory that could have been more effectively handled in the form of a short, rather than a feature film.
The film’s early dialogue felt very forced, with the characters constantly reminding the audience what their relations to each other were. There were lines such as, “Hi, BROTHER” “Hey FATHER” “Ugh, my BROHER…” “Stop it, UNCLE” This rather clunky dialogue is not aided by the fact that two out of the three actors delivering it do so in a shaky manner. The two male actors in the film, while dodgy in an ultimately suitable way, both overplay their roles slightly and both seem a little too young to have the relation to the Elizabeth Olsen character that they do.
There is also a particular scene in the film, which at first draws tension (Even though it is a scene which has been done countless times before in other films) however the film then proceeds to provide a slight variation on that scene for what felt like five or six more times. The entire second act in terms of substance and style, very much felt like a holding pattern and filler until we hit the latter stages, when once again we were treated to something fresh.
There are two to three incredibly well executed moments of horror and tension in this film. However, unless easily scared or not as well versed in the genre, the majority of this film’s frights will not affect you. The jump moments, while some unexpected, failed to illicit the reaction that they perhaps admittedly would have done, had I been watching the film in the cinema. However for this reason, along with the sparse story that doesn’t reveal its substance until the last ten minutes, the majority of Silent House is a rather tedious and repetitive affair.
What kept me gripped, engaged and interested however was the performance of Elizabeth Olsen and the film’s mystery. While I admire its lack of gore and reliance on more classical and respectable modes of horror, with a psychological rather than psychical focus, what kept me enjoying the film was the slow piecing together of the information provided and the central performance. Olsen is constantly believable and despite the amount of shrieking and screaming that she does, she never overplays it or appears to be trying too hard. When the film’s mysteries are ultimately revealed (Something that shouldn’t shock those who paid the slightest bit of attention to the film’s clues) Olsen gets to showcase a different side to her character and performance, in a development which provided an aspect I wish had been explored a little more and not reserved to five or so minutes of screen time. It was a “twist” that it in fact addressed what was my principal plot problem with the film. The film’s ending may also be too dark or open for some, a type of ending I usually appreciate; yet here I felt like there was something missing, preventing it from truly driving it home.
Ultimately Silent House is a film, which has one or two great moments, an attitude to admire and a solid lead performance. It is let down by a repetitive nature and the stretching out of poor ideas in order to build-up to the rushing of good ones. An average, passable and acceptable horror movie, yet one which had the ingredients to be a great one.
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
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