Let’s get this out right now. I do not do scary movies. If there is a horror flick that I feel the need to see, I will rent the DVD and fast forward through the scary parts. Granted, I do love some movies that scared the crap out of me in the theatre, namely The Ring and Signs. Silent House is one of those movies that I would have preferred to have seen at home. It scared the crap out of me.
Elizabeth Olsen plays Sarah, a girl who has returned to a house that has been in her family for awhile. Squatters and druggies have broken into the abandoned house causing all sorts of damage to the house. Sarah’s dad (Adam Trese) and uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens) are back at the house to repair it and get it ready for sale. While inside the house, Sarah hears what she thinks is someone moving around upstairs. Sarah and her dad go to investigate. Sarah’s dad gets seriously injured by someone and the whole scary part of the movie begins.
To add to the terror of Silent House, the house does not have power and the windows have been boarded up; therefore, it is pitch dark inside. The only light is provided by candles, oil lamps, small generators hooked up to flood lights, and flashlights. In addition, most of the exits are locked by padlocks and the main door to the house is locked back every time someone comes into the house. The key is promptly hung next to the door for easy access.
As soon as the dad gets injured, the tension builds both on screen and in you. I have not seen a movie like this in ages (willingly). I basically did not look at the screen or looked at my friends during the higher tension moments. It does have moments that are made to get you to jump in your seat. The rest of the time it is just a mix of dread and terror about what is going to happen next. The tension builds and builds until it is released at the end when it reveals what exactly has been happening to Sarah. Once you realize what is happening, the tension leaves your body and relaxation takes over. I left the movie with a tension headache. Had the tension held until the end of the movie, it would be a five star thriller.
The amazing thing about Silent House is how it was filmed and edited. The movie is edited to look like it was filmed in one take and in real time. There are no cuts to the perspectives of the three characters. The filmmakers did takes of up to twenty minutes long. The editing is seamless. I knew that it was supposed to look like one take before I saw the movie, and I tried to find where they could have spliced the different takes together. From my amateur eye, I could not find any editing mistakes.
Silent House belongs to Elizabeth Olsen. She is on the screen almost the entire movie, and is basically the only reason this movie is scary. If the filmmakers had gotten another mediocre actress to play Sarah, the movie would have fallen flat. Casting the perfect actress for a project that relies almost entirely on her performance is crucial, and they got it right with Elizabeth Olsen.
I do not want to go into the most terrifying parts of Silent House. It will spoil the experience. Just believe me when I say that this film is utterly and ridiculously scary. This movie does not need any “found footage” or documentary angle to make this a pretty good flick.
I give Silent House 4 “Polaroid cameras” out of 5.