The Silent House

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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Gimmick movies come in all shapes and sizes, and one of the newest types is the single-take feature. This used to be impossible due to camera and film limitations, but digital video has opened a whole new world to filmmakers looking to challenge themselves and reward audiences. Single-take films are exactly that, films shot entirely in one, continuous, uninterrupted take, and some recent examples include Russian Ark and PVC-1. (The British horror film Cut uses a single-take for all but its first five minutes.) The latest film to earn as much attention for the technique as it does for the art is the Uruguayan horror movie The Silent House. It’s about a father and his teen daughter tasked with spending the night in a rural house that they’re cleaning up and repairing for rental. They settle in for the night, but when she hears noises upstairs he heads up to investigate, screams, and then falls silent. She goes in search of her father and soon discovers there are worse things than being an orphan…

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Shooting a film in one continuous shot is a gimmick, but if you can pull off the uber-tracking shot and it adds to the storytelling of a film, why not do it? The last time I saw it work effectively was in The Quietest Sound, but this is a far different beast. The Silent House is a horror film where everything looks like the rotten wood of a house a young woman and her father need to fix up. It’s dank, dangerous, and there’s a creepy little girl that seems to be hanging around. Trying to get all that coverage in one take must have been trying, but at least with the trailer, it’s impossible to see how that gambit played out. But who cares about the gimmick? The trailer looks terrifying all on its own.

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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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