By Mike Smith
Bump! Ah yes, the standard horror movie staple. Young girl trapped in house with no lights hears that proverbial bump telling her she’s not alone and the audience jumps. Or laughs. Depending on the audience. Opening this week, “Silent House” has more laughs than jumps!
Sarah (Olsen) and her dad (Trese) are renovating the old family house, getting it ready to be sold. Surrounded by work lights (the electricity doesn’t work) they are slowly going through rooms and trashing the unwanted. They are joined by Peter (Stevens), dad’s brother and Sarah’s uncle. Dad and Peter bicker like brothers do, causing Peter to leave. As Sarah begins to clean out one room, dad heads upstairs. Bump!
Marketed as being one continual 88 minute journey (there are no editing cuts…only a couple black outs), “Silent House” is a good idea gone bad. Is it real? Is Sarah imagining everything? Maybe on both accounts. While I admire the attempt to show the action in one continual shot, I don’t admire whoever was in charge of continuity. Blood stains appear on one part of a body, seemingly disappear the next time the camera swings back then reappear again. And if you’re going to make it an important part of the plot that the front door requires a key don’t spend fifteen seconds showing someone lock the door and hang the key up only to have someone else just stroll through it moments later. And here’s an important safety tip for everyone: PLEASE DON’T USE A GAS GENERATOR INSIDE OF YOUR HOUSE!! Hell, maybe Sarah IS hallucinating with all of that carbon dioxide in the air. “Silent House” is actually a remake of a film that was Uruguay’s official submission for the Best Foreign Language Academy Award. Don’t look for this one to share that Oscar history.
What really disappointed me is that the co-director Kentis helmed the outstanding “Open Water.” He really showed an eye for building suspense with that film and, unfortunately, doesn’t succeed as well here. The cast does an impressive job, most notably Olsen. A breakout star last year for her work in “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” Olsen spends most of the film hiding under furniture. But when the camera closes in on her face, the terror Sarah is feeling is projected through her eyes. The film takes a really weird twist in it’s last 15 minutes, though if you get the same vibe I got off of creepy Uncle Peter you may not be as surprised as some.