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.
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Silent House features a number of lengthy takes and, unsurprisingly, Olsen is up to the task – delivering a successful and engrossing performance. Admittedly, the role isn’t going to earn her too many accolades, but considering most of her onscreen time is spent reacting to sounds in the dark, her performance definitely brings added layers (and believability) to a role that might have otherwise been portrayed by a less convincing actress.Skip to next paragraph
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The “real time” presentation brings events to life in a compelling way, but at the same time, undermines any opportunity for audiences to gain insight into Sarah – beyond basic demeanor and rapport with Peter and John. Even as the darker mystery of the house unfolds, there’s very little chance for audiences to “get to know” any of the main characters – which is somewhat of a missed opportunity, especially given Olsen’s onscreen presence. Some moviegoers will no doubt defend the barebones portrayal of the characters, arguing that they are merely vehicles for the audience to become immersed in the creepy situation; however, given that they have a history with the “Silent House,” the choice ultimately detracts from the effectiveness of the film’s finale.
Regardless, the “hook” of 88 minutes of “uninterrupted” footage will definitely provide moviegoers with a unique theater experience, as the format ratchets up the tension in certain scenes and successfully captures the sense of claustrophobia that Sarah is experiencing throughout. With “found-footage” movies starting to wear thin (just look at Apollo 18 and The Devil Inside for proof), it’s hard to ignore the possibility that “real time” horror films could be the next go-to move for Hollywood executives. The prospects are certainly intriguing (until the concept is used up) - at least based on how the idea is employed in Silent House. While a few of the “transition” moments aren’t as fluid as others, the overall effect is pretty compelling.
That said, some moviegoers may be somewhat underwhelmed by Sarah’s over-arching “ordeal” – as Silent House is much more grounded than other horror-thrillers. There are a number of jump scares and truly creepy moments, but in this case, the real horror is in the uncertainty of each and every moment – which, for some viewers, might result in the opinions that there’s not a lot actually happening. Fright fans looking for on-the-nose Paranormal Activity-like visual set-pieces could walk away underwhelmed, as the film’s climatic ”reveals” will, for some viewers, be somewhat of an unearned cop out (or, worse yet, overly obvious). However, that doesn’t mean that the film fails to present plenty of tense, albeit grounded, moments.
Moviegoers looking for a unique horror-thriller experience, who find the “real time” premise intriguing, are likely to enjoy Silent House in spite of its flaws – since the film manages to succeed in a number of its lofty ambitions. Unfortunately, the fundamental structure of the movie prevents the experience from doing anything more than immersing an audience in the moment to moment situation – leaving the characters and over-arching storyline struggling to gain traction or lay a workable foundation for the film’s finale.
Ben Kendrick blogs at Screen Rant.
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