Elizabeth Olsen in 'Silent House' elevates the film above scary movie cliches
Elizabeth Olsen delivers an engrossing performance as a young adult in a mysterious house.
After a breakout performance in Sean Durkin’s 2011 drama film, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Elizabeth Olsen (younger sister to the infamous Olsen twins) is set to try her hand at the horror genre in Silent House. Olsen’s performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene earned her several “Best Actress” nominations – leading many film fans to question whether Silent House would impede Olsen’s rising star, or prove that even in a horror-thriller project the young actress can deliver a compelling performance.Skip to next paragraph
Screen Rant had a humble start back in 2003 as a place to rant about some of the dumber stuff related to the movie industry. Since then, the site has grown to cover more and more TV and movie news (and not just the dumb stuff) along with sometimes controversial movie reviews. The goal at Screen Rant is to cover stories and review movies from a middle ground/average person perspective.
'True Detective' director Cary Fukunaga will reportedly direct adaptation of Stephen King's 'It'
Hayden Panettiere: Will she return for the 'Heroes' miniseries?
Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson will return for 'Pitch Perfect 2,' star Elizabeth Banks will direct (+video)
Oscars 2014: Nominee 'Her' is all too timely for one husband
Nick Lachey set to make debut as host of 'Big Morning Buzz Live'
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Of course, Silent House isn’t just a basic slasher-horror film where brainless co-eds run up a flight of stars instead of out the front door. Directed by cinematography team Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, who cut their teeth on the 2003 survival-horror film, Open Water (about a pair of scuba divers who are inadvertently left alone miles from shore in shark-infested waters), Silent House offers 88 minutes of “based on true events” story presented as a single, uninterrupted take.
Does the pairing of Olsen with the “high-concept” premise make for a gripping and unique theater experience?
Ultimately, the performances in Silent House - as well as the unique filmmaking presentation – elevate the movie above normal horror-thriller cliches; however, the film definitely has a few shortcomings that, despite the larger successes, undermine the overall effectiveness of the experience.
Taking cues from the 2010 Uruguayan film, The Silent House, Kentis and Lau’s Silent House story is pretty basic – which makes sense for a movie with only a few characters and an especially limited scale. We follow leading-lady Sarah (Olsen) through a tense, and at times horrifying, ordeal: Sarah, along with her father, John (Adam Trese), and Uncle, Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens), is in the process of fixing up the family’s dilapidated vacation home, in an effort to make the property more attractive when they attempt to sell it. Sarah begins to hear mysterious noises in the upstairs portion of the house, and when she and her dad attempt to investigate the sounds, it quickly becomes clear that they are not alone – nor are they safe. Whether or not the alleged “true event” inspiration of the film ever actually occurred remains unsubstantiated (and was a point of contention among fans of the 2010 Uruguayan film); however, “based on true events” or not, the fundamental storyline works well enough within the confines of the 88 minute timeframe.
Despite that simple set up, Silent House is a meticulously crafted film. Not only is the house isolated, every window is boarded up (to prevent local kids from breaking the glass) and all the doors are dead-bolted (to keep out squatters) – creating an atmosphere of dark isolation that works to the film’s advantage again and again. Sarah (as well as John and Peter) rely on handheld propane as well as LED lamps – which, coupled with the “uninterrupted take” presentation, will definitely keep audience members squinting into the darkness, along with the film’s main characters.