Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Silent House

Silent House - poster finalCinema Monolith: 7/10
IMDb: 5.2/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: ** out of 4
The Motion Pictures: **½ out of 5

Released on March 9, 2012
Rated R
86 minutes

Directed by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau

Written by Laura Lau

Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross, Adam Barnett, Haley Murphy

These days, there seems to be a little repetition when it comes to horror films, so for me it’s always a nice surprise when I find one that’s either smartly done or offers something new. In my opinion, both of these expectations were delivered with Silent House, a nerve-wracking tale that offered a bit more than the patented ‘stalked by someone or something in the house’ storyline.

Here, Elizabeth Olsen stars as Sarah, a young woman who, along with her father and uncle, visit their run-down, lakeside house with the intention of fixing it up before a sale; while working inside, Sarah hears what sounds like an intruder upstairs. And for her, that’s when it all goes south, as her father goes missing, the mysterious intruder relentlessly stalks her, and she’s suddenly and inexplicably unable to escape the house. Along the way, she and the viewer continue to receive more and more hints that something else is going on beneath the surface, but like Sarah, you never find out what that something is until the end.

I knew nothing about this film going in, and it me several minutes after the opening shot to to realize it was all being filmed to appear as one continuous take, with the camera following Sarah wherever she went, and acting as her eyes wherever she looked; you experienced everything she did, when she did, and the one-take philosophy really made the fear concept work, and truly offered some quality chills.

I can’t remember ever watching a film where I’ve seen someone display the level of dread that Olsen showed here, and I was really impressed with how she handled these emotions. Like Olsen, the film did its job well, and credit should also go to the directors—who succeeded with the filmmaking nightmare of making the single take look perfectly seamless for 82 minutes—and the music score by Nathan Larson, which played like an ominous background tone throughout.

Unfortunately, there had to be a drawback, and for me that was the change-up thrown at the conclusion, which I guess made sense for the story that was being told, but in my eyes was a typical cop-out, and to some extent ruined the framework that the story had worked so hard at creating. Otherwise, a thrilling little psychological horror film that for some reason has gotten a bad rap; for me, it was some tension-filled fun on a Friday night.  (7/10)

Silent House - photo final 2

10 comments on “Silent House

  1. Lindsey

    I watched this on Netflix the other day! I did think that they used the “continuous shot” style quite well, but I didn’t like the ending. After all of the great suspense built throughout the early stages of the film, I expected more from the ending. It felt like a cop-out. I haven’t seen Rope in forever but I’ll be seeing it on the big screen in a few weeks, so I’ll be giving this one a bit more thought after that re-watch, too!


    • Todd Benefiel

      I watched it on Netflix, too, and I totally agree with everything you say…and for those reading this, I’m about to throw out a spoiler or two: why do movies like this (or any movie for that matter) find it necessary to not except their own premise? Why have all these bad things happening to someone, then at film’s end say, nope, this wasn’t real, it was all in her head? Just tell it like it is, and make it all actually happening! What a concept!

      But please, enough of frustrating endings…tell me about your upcoming Rope viewing! Where, and what theater, and is it part of a Hitchcock festival?


      • Lindsey

        I have no problem with delusional main characters as long as the audience is clued in before the half-way point. If the big “surprise” had been revealed earlier and the rest of the film has played out as a character study of her psychosis, I could’ve dug that.

        The Rope viewing is going to be at a tiny theater in Detroit. Most often the theater is used for ragtime concerts and things of the sort, but they show films on occasion too. They’re doing a mid-day showing and another at night, but no festival. I might be a super nerd and stay for both showings since they’re only $4 each. In May they’re showing The General with live accompaniment, which should also be fantastic!


      • Todd Benefiel

        Your comment about the audience being ‘clued in’ is exactly what Hitchcock would’ve done; I read an interview where he stated that (and I hope I’m remembering this right) you wouldn’t show a man sitting at a table with a bomb underneath, and not let the audience know about the bomb until the end, when it explodes; you let the audience know from the start, but not the man at the table, and then you’ll have your audience glued to their seats with suspense.

        Old movies on a big screen for only $4! How cool! I’d love to see The General in a theater with live music! I’ve seen quite a few older films on the big screen, and it’s always a blast!


      • Lindsey

        The General is a bit more expensive — $10, but still well worth it! (Plus, I’m glad to support the theater. They were closed for a few years, and I was really glad to see them renovate/reopen rather than sell the property.) I’ve never seen either of these films on the big screen before, so it should be a great experience.


      • Todd Benefiel

        Seeing a silent movie on a big screen for $10 is a steal! I have one local theater that’s an older one, the Valley Art, a renovated single-screen cinema over in Tempe, but I wish they’d show more classic films…their schedule includes mostly independent and art house, which is fine, but I’d much rather see something from the ’40s or ’50s (that’s where I saw Psycho last year, during their Hitchcock festival).


      • Lindsey

        We have quite a few indie theaters, too. There are three that I know of that play classics though, two of which are completely dedicated to classics (The Redford and The Senate). Detroit is a very good place to be as a film fan!


      • Todd Benefiel

        Much better than Phoenix! Keep me posted on your Rope screening!


      • Lindsey

        I’ll be posting a full review of the experience (assuming nothing gets in the way of my attendance, haha).


      • Todd Benefiel

        Cool! I’ll be there! (At your site, not the theater!).


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