I’m going to spoiler the shit out of this movie, so if you intended to see it (you’re going to want to reconsider, seriously), exit this page pronto.
We were excited, our interested piqued – titillated, if you will. Silent House promised much. A mysterious house. A whole new way of filming the action (in one long, un-ending, vomit-inducing sequence). Something paranormal? Something sinister, a la The Strangers? It delivered about half, and half of that was shoddy and stupid.
Follow the camera in seemingly one real-time take, as Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen), who’s helping clean up her family’s lake house with her dad and uncle, ends up getting terrorized by someone (or something, as the trailer wants you to believe by teasing you with horror flick foreplay and confounding your psyche). Half the “fun” of this movie is trying to figure out what’s happening, but after a while I was so frustrated I started to not care. When the truth was finally revealed, I couldn’t wait to go home and do something else.
When a film plays upon your fear of the unknown, that can be a very good thing. This one absolutely does that, but it also goes along with the unknown of whatever is outside of Elizabeth Olsen’s field of vision. Because the camera is with her the entire time, so what she sees, we see. And that’s it. Which sounds sort of freaking cool in theory, but in execution, I got Cloverfield-level motion sickness and my patience severely tried.
I did the whole jump-around-in-my-seat thing, because of course it’s pretty jumpy. Especially when you go through the initial “is this house haunted or are there some sick hillbilly lunatics trying to kill her?!!”-stage of the film. The house has no electricity (of course, because THERE’S NEVER ELECTRICITY IN FILMS LIKE THIS!), and is pretty damn dark as well, since drifters have broken all the windows, and they’ve been boarded up from the inside. The stage is set nicely for fear.
Elizabeth Olsen stars as Sarah, and she’s really lovely to look at, and has a natural way about her that makes me believe she’s a perfectly fine actress who I wouldn’t mind seeing in something else. I cannot say the same for her co-stars. Adam Tesse and Eric Sheffer Stevens, who play her father John and uncle Peter, respectively, are two of the worst actors I’ve ever seen in a major motion picture. Line delivery so ridiculously cheesy and lame it was almost difficult to watch. I absolutely witnessed more skill and talent in my high school drama club days. Olsen is good on her own, but in comparison to these two clowns, she’s Academy Award material.
House is brought to you by the husband and wife directing team of Chris Kentis and Laura Lau (Lau also wrote the script, a remake of a Uruguayan – is that a word? – film). This pair is responsible for the unbelievably terrifying flick that felt so real I was truly nauseous – Open Water. If you haven’t seen that, I give it a stamp of approval. It will haunt you. And change you. When the ad for this stated it was from the makers of that great little film, I was extra hopeful. But this one didn’t even come close to instilling that sheer, cold, base-level fear. The terror of human survival. Considering Sarah is trying to stay alive in this house, it’s sad that nothing this deep was conveyed. No, for this story, we get a “twist.” The filmmakers keep the secret from you until 3/4 of the way through, when they want you to start figuring it out on your own, and they slowly start to reveal it to you. This is where I caught on, and it made me mad, and feel kind of stupid, then gross, and finally, angry.
Nikki’s husband called the plot twist the moment he saw the commercial. Can you guess??? I didn’t, but then again, my naiveté is off the charts. Here goes: Sarah’s actually crazy, has a sort of split personality, and is hallucinating and imagining the brutality in her head. In reality, she is the one inflicting the violence upon her male relatives. Why is she mentally unwell, you ask? Because her dad and uncle molested her when she was a kid. Which is gross and awful and I’m sorry to even type this, but pretty clichéd. Like, really? REALLY? It gets even more disgusting when the camera pans slowly over loads of pics from the aforementioned atrocity, giving the viewer enough of a glimpse to make you feel sick, but it just seemed so forced, like they were shoving this abuse down our throats to make us sympathise with Sarah. I get it, okay? You don’t have to show me the fucking Polaroids, you assholes.
Silent House adds nothing new to the horror genre, except an eye-torturing method of filming. I’ll give it a few props for attempting something original, but since I walked out of the theater pissed that I had gone in, it must be said: Don’t see this!