Silent House delivers suspense, fails to payoff

On a normal day, shelling out ten dollars to not have to endure a scary movie would seem like a small price to pay.

So when I asked the teller at the movie theatre if the ticket I was purchasing was for “the movie with Denzel Washington,” I was largely unprepared for the two hours of pure terror that would ensue. Safe House sounds a lot like Silent House, you see, and this employee was of below average intelligence.

Silent House, starring Elizabeth Olsen and based on the 2010 Uruguyan film of the same name, is an unsettling and technically impressive film about a young woman named Sarah who finds herself trapped in a secluded lake house.

Unlike most horror films of late, Silent House relies little on gore and blood and achieves all of its success in the suspense perpetuated throughout the majority of the film.

Trapped in the house with no way out and no means of communication with the outside world, Olsen’s Sarah finds herself in the terrifying setting of a literally silent house.

After injury befalls her only companions, her father (Adam Trese) and Uncle (Eric Sheffer Stevens), her suspicions of foul play materialize into terror and she finds herself alone in the dark silence with an unknown number of unseen assailants.

When darkness falls on the lake house Olsen’s character is left with only hand-held lamps and flashlights with which to navigate — resulting in terrifying visual stimuli for the audience.

This movie is frightening primarily because of the astounding acting performance from Olsen herself. She took what was essentially an average horror script and turned it into a truly disturbing film.

The cinematic contribution of film making duo Chris Kentis and Laura Lau (responsible for 2003’s Open Water) add the interesting and unexpected angle of a real time experience, shot in a single uninterrupted shot. For this reason, it is far too easy to imagine yourself in the scenario — only aided by Olsen’s stellar performance.

Disappointingly, when the suspense ends and the action finally begins — the film falls apart. The twist lacks any sort of logic and is wrought with gaping holes that even those who watched a large portion of the movie with eyes clenched shut can’t help but miss.

While the twist is clumsily foreshadowed throughout the film, it is poorly applied and leaves the audience members feeling as though they watched only part of a movie. Essentially, the film was terrifying during the first hour of viewing. However, due to poor writing, it is almost laughable in retrospect. This seems to be a tactic used by many film makers as of late — cheap entertainment with no lasting punch or pay-off.

Gone are the days of horror movies that left you thinking — even lying awake obsessively attuned to the most minute sounds of your house nights later.

Instead, I left the theatre to the sounds of confused laughter.

If not for Olsen’s chilling performance and the innovating filming approach of Kentis and Lau, Silent House would have been a total bust.

All things considered, it was the most regrettable use of ten dollars I’ve spent recently.

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