Review: Silent House

April 9, 2012, 11:40 am
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Gimmicks can be a crucial to a flick's success. Let's get real (said in my finest Dr. Phil voice), The Artist'would not have been as "smart" or "award-worthy" sans the "silent film" treatment. Its "boy meets girl, boy denies girl, boy gets girl" plot isn't far removed from your average rom-com. 

Now no one would dare compare Silent House to The Artist (heresy!) but they do share one thing in common - a gimmick. The wannabe frightfest is "captured in real time" - shot in one (alleged) continuous, uninterrupted take. But aside from the (attempted) stunt, the flick is nothing more than a run-of-the-mill "things-that-go-bump-in-the-middle-of-the-late-afternoon" film topped off with a seen-it-all-before twist.

Elizabeth Olsen - fresh off her mesmerizing debut in the brilliant Martha Marcy May Marlene - is Sarah, a college-aged gal cleaning up her family's seaside vacation home along with her father (an average at best Adam Trese) and uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens). The opening (and "only") shot starts on Sarah as she walks along the rocks by the water, making her way up to the très creepy Victorian. 

The place is in a state of total disrepair which - conveniently - adds to the "doomed" factor. The front door's old school skeleton key is an especially solid touch. Soon after arrival, Sarah starts to hear knocking and other bizarre sounds from inside the joint and away we go with the scares or lack thereof. In an effort to mitigate the spoiler effect, that's where the plot synopsis thankfully sadly must come to a close.

While Silent House offers up some decent tension and an occasional "gotcha" moment, ultimately it's only somewhat memorable as a technical achievement rather than of any substantive manner. That said, let's clear something up, the film is clearly not "one uninterrupted take". I counted no fewer than four editing spots (hint: keep an eye on the banister). 

As for the "plot", as Trish declared to Darry in Jeepers Creepers: "You know the part in scary movies when somebody does something really stupid, and everybody hates them for it?" This is littered with those moments. 

While it will undoubtedly scare up some serious cash, Silent House is a haunt you wish you lost the key to.

Grade: C-

It was many moons ago in a darkened theater that my love of cinema took root as I snuck in to see my first R-rated film, Blade Runner. The futuristic vision that Ridley Scott unleashed on the screen was simply soul-expanding — spiritual even. From that moment, my mission to have that kind of magic strike again began in earnest. My hope is to be able to shine a light on films that may just have that kind of effect on you — films that may be lesser known, but not lesser in impact. 
- Erick Weber

Final Cut Scoring System
99-95% Opening night
94-90% Opening weekend
89-86% In theaters
85-83% On Demand
82-80% Netflix/Redbox
79-75% If desperate
74-70% If dozing off
69-65% If intoxicated
64-60% If comatose
Below 60% If brain dead

Erick's reviews
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