Silent House (2012)
Ostensibly executed in one long, unblinking take (though you can tell the edit points; the directors admit they filmed it in 10-minute chunks), Silent House is a visceral experience in spookiness, tethered to the brilliant actress Elizabeth Olsen that unfolds in real time. It’s your standard scary house movie, lots of dark rooms and pitiful hiding under furniture; it begins as an intruder(s) stalking Olsen from room to room and then, in the final 20 minutes, transforms into a psychological thriller, with the realm between reality and hallucination blending. The bare-bones plot (girl chased through house) cranks out some decent scares due to directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau (Open Water)’s tightly executed sense of reality, leaving us feeling as trapped and helpless as our heroine. The movie’s minor successes are also squarely due to Olsen, she of glassy eyes and hoarse scream. It’s almost a one-woman show and Olsen is so convincing in her terror, completely unnerving even when the movie is not. The climax is a bit of a letdown, to say the least, and leaves a lot of off-putting questions that cannot be answered by the movie’s absence of back-story. I won’t say the ending ruins the entire suspenseful experience of Silent House, but it’s certainly going to spur plenty of grumbling. Still, Olsen is a star and gives a terrific freaked-out performance worth getting spooked over. Also it’s based on a 2010 Uruguay movie with the same high-concept gimmick. Now you know Uruguay has a film industry. Don’t you feel better?
Nate’s Grade: B-