Chris Kentis

Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr heads to the desert to hide in a cave, hoping against hope that some mystical bald alien will beam him to Mars so he can make a pass at the ridiculously gorgeous Lynn Collins in a brass bikini. Unfortunately, no one came to his rescue, so he snuck into an abandoned house in upstate New York to terrorize some people. Again, no one came. That left Kevin to skip his movies this week so he could go to the library and find a book that would allow him to curse Eddie Murphy into not speaking. He hasn’t been heard from since.

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A gimmicky horror film from Chris Kentis and Laura Lau (Open Water), Silent House keeps you engaged until that timeless genre staple, the moronic plot twist, takes the movie to a weird, sinister places and saps the fun out of it. Of course, that makes it hard to review the picture, which depends so heavily on that third act reveal. The first hour-plus is pretty gripping, a real-time single-take (undoubtedly including disguised cuts) depiction of a young woman named Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) being tormented by mysterious stalkers inside a lakeside home she and her father (Adam Trese) are restoring. It’s a creepy place, with the windows boarded up, the doors locked and the power shut off. Cell phones don’t work and there are no neighbors. The filmmakers, remaking a 2010 Uruguayan movie, play up the closed-off quality by setting the action during the late afternoon, with the sun first setting outdoors. The slivers of light that occasionally peak in, suggesting that helps lies just outside the front door, make the home an ideal setting for a suffocating living nightmare.

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Movies presented in real-time are a sort of rarity. High Noon and Rope jump to the mind immediately, and they’re fantastic, but there are also a handful of films that never got past the concept as pure gimmick. However, it’s always been interesting to guess at what the appeal of taking away the possibility of jumping forward or back in time really is. One obvious trick, is the creation of suspense. A constantly ticking clock that the audience is physically aware of. That seems to be alive and well for Sundance favorite Silent House which features Sundance favorite Elizabeth Olsen. It comes from Open Water creators Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, and tells the story of a young woman and her father who are stuck inside a home where a noise continues to grow louder and louder. It’s based off the Uruguayan movie from Gustavo Hernandez that Rob was not a big fan of. Gimmick-based or not, the trailer here is pretty damned limp. It’s composed almost entirely of shots of Olsen breathing heavily and then a poorly shot “thing of some sort” grabbing her? Not grabbing her? Hard to say. Check it out for yourself:

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Writer/Director Chris Kentis and Producer Laura Lau brought something wholly new to the world of horror when they released Open Water in 2004. Six years later, they are hitting Sundance with a new thriller called The Silent House that features a young girl and her father spending the night in a house where a mysterious noise continues to grow louder and louder. It’s an English-language remake of the little-seen 2010 film of the same name, and while it will have a lot to prove to audiences in Utah, the simplistic concept is a great draw. The possibilities for something like this are endless, and like every other film of the modern time, adds the hook of being “based on true events.” [STYD]

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