By Gary Murray


Starring Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese and Eric Sheffer Stevens


Written and directed by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau


Running time 86 min


MPAA Rating R


Selig Film Rating Cable


Silent House is based on a 2010 Spanish film La Casa Muda by Gustavo Hernandez.  It is supposedly inspired by true events from the 1940’s.   Chris Kentis and Laura Lau take on the English language re-make.


Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) is stuck at the spooky old house by the water when a mysterious visitor shows.  It is a girl about her age who claims they were friends when Sarah visited the house all those years ago.  Sarah does not remember the woman but still agrees to hang out with her.  Then she leaves Sarah.   It is a moment of unease that establishes the idea is nothing is as it seems to be.


The home has seen better days.  It is a broken down former image of what it once was with boarded up windows.  Sarah’s father John and her uncle Peter are working to get the house ready to sell.  The men just want to get rid of the property and move on with their lives. The two men seem to have an unspoken history that goes beyond being brothers.   Old photos are scattered around the floorboards, pictures of something unsettling.


The old house makes noises and each creak gives young Sarah goose bumps.   Sarah believes that someone is in the house.  Then, her father disappears and later her uncle.  The girl is all alone with a someone who wants something.


The story takes place in about 90 minutes, in real time without any cuts (think Hitchcock’s Rope).  Though the idea has been done before, the gimmick does work to keep the feeling of impending doom.  The movie has that jerky, hand held camera trick which adds to the sense of urgency.  The camera bounces around then stops to give the audience some important information to drive along the plot.


While there are elements of the supernatural suggested, the experience is much more internal than the monster under the stairs.  The big reveal is not that much of a surprise and the major plot points are telegraphed almost from the beginning.  There are few revelations in Silent House.


This is another impressive acting feat for Elizabeth Olsen.  The young actress gave one of the most powerful readings of 2010 with Martha Marcy Mae Marlene.   Here she proves that the role was not a one-hit wonder.  The kid sister of the Olsen Twins is proving that not only is she the best actress of the family, she is proving to be one of the best actresses of her generation.  There are moments of true terror in her reading that sends chills down the collective audience spine.


Silent House is a decent horror flick but nothing that surprising nor that much of a breakthrough.  It is a great performance of Elizabeth Olsen in a mediocre vehicle. 

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