Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen- Mary-Kate and Ashley’s younger sis), her father (Adam Trese) and uncle (Eric Shaffer Stevens) are restoring their old family home that’s become a haven for squatters and plastic-covered pool tables in order to sell it. Sarah hears footsteps and random bumps in the dark which accelerates her subtley-spoken about paranoia. She can’t find her father, a creepy neighbor claims to be from her past, and an unidentified man is following her around the victorian home. Is there someone really stalking Sarah’s family? Is it all her paranoia? Are her real-life older sisters jealous of her talent?
Silent House presents an interesting premise: a seemingly normal, bright young woman helps her father and uncle restore their old family home to sell it. When the uncle leaves and the father is out of the room our heroine hears strange sounds. Her father alludes to her having an issue with paranoia. She also meets a young woman who claims to be from her past who also takes a strange yet strong interest in Sarah. Overtime, strange sounds are heard again. Sarah sees a strange man in the house after she discovers ***SPOILER ALERT*** her father’s barely living body. What makes this story stick out is that rather than a typical blood and guts- cat’s jumping out of the closet- false red herring horror films we’re used to do, SILENT HOUSE explores the dimension of fear and mind trickery- albeit not always successfully. Elizabeth Olsen carry’s the film with strong leading lady confidence. Her Sarah wasn’t a caricature or “type” that’s usually used a lead in these films. She was a normal, everyday girl who you would find working on her laptop at Starbucks and you fully sympathised with her situation. Eric Sheffer Stevens was also a standout as the slightly creepy uncle (watch for the kitchen seen with him and Sarah in the first act) who makes you say “I’m not sure about him.”
I first heard about this film when it made a splash at Sundace and after checking out the trailer in January I knew this would become my favorite horror movie of the year… Unfortunatley I’m still holding out, although I was as disappointed as I have been with another recent horror film
about douche bags trapped in an ATM machine who could easily outwit and outrun their attacker. This film isn’t as straight forward as the advertisements would suggest. Unfortunately the ending is fairly clear within the first 15 minutes. How the ending is received is what could ultimately make the viewer love or hate this film. With revelations on the true nature of the story the viewer will either feel as if there was a big pay off, or on the other hand, feel perfectly deceived. I was somewhere in the middle as I was trying to prove my partner that I was right the whole time.
SILENT HOUSE has an interesting premise yet the execution fell flat. I’m interested in seeing the Uruguayan original, THE SILENT HOUSE, to see if the pay off was more effective. Having said that, major props go to the actors who were all game for their roles and for director, Chris Kentis for being brave enough to make a “stalker in the house”-type movie, not only in broad daylight, but by using simplistic shots that never made the story seem bigger that it should be. He made the simple noises and simple shadows in every frame add tension to the most intense scenes. Again, if your sold on the ending your sold on the whole movie. I was somewhere in between.
**1/2 out of 4
JD and coke with a hot pretzel and sweet-hot mustard. No real correlation to the film, but it works.