Silent House: Film Review

2012/04/02 Posted by MsAJL

If You… Go See It Don’t See It
enjoy scary movies X
don’t like characters behaving illogically just to prolong the terror X
are interested in the artistry of a film shot in one 88 minute take X
are nauseated by shaky, documentary-style camera work X
appreciate performances by young, up-and-coming actors X
want to judge whether celebrity siblings deserve 15 minutes of fame X
are sick of Hollywood remakes X

Silent House movie posterI’m taking a film class at Armstrong Acting Studios with Douglas Nyback, who tasked us with watching a film called Silent House, which was shot in one continuous 88 minute take – a feat, in and of itself, as impressive as the 3D effects in Avatar.

The Acting Lesson: to punctuate the importance of resisting the urge to bail out of a take when we lose track of what we’re doing, or our train of thought drowns out our character’s train of thought, or we don’t feel emotionally compelled, or things are just generally not going as we rehearsed.

The Lesson Learned: Sometimes actors’ performances are merely one of many contributions to the entirety of a cinematic experience.

Sure enough, the actors never bailed on the single take in the film – notwithstanding stiff line deliveries and stumbled words – while the impressively choreographed cinematography and carefully laid out props & set dressings more than made up for any acting deficiencies.

Elizabeth OlsenNot that the performances were deficient. The lead actress, Elizabeth Olsen, otherwise known as the little sister of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen of Full House fame, stands out, not only as the best actor in the film, but probably the best actor in her family as well. I appreciated the casual & aloof setup of her character’s personality before her descent into terror & panic, which I thought she balanced well with a sheer will to escape.

But here’s where the film lost me…
When she did finally escape and her uncle inexplicably returned – she did not fight nearly hard enough to keep them from going back to the house. Despite the desire to save her father, anyone who’s ever taken first aid or flown on a plane knows you must help yourself before you can help others.

Upon returning to the house, it becomes more apparent that her terrors were being caused by hallucinations, which was not surprising because of the foreshadowing “I had a headache” line at the start of the film.

La Casa Muda movie posterNext up, was the again, unsurprising twist that she had been traumatized by abuse as a child in the house as foreshadowed early in the film by an awkward moment with her uncle as he remarked how much she’d grown up while his gaze lingered for a little too long. She also had a crazily low cut shirt, which I’m assuming was not an accident. And just in case any viewers weren’t crystal clear, they also threw in some belly-craddling “Daddy, it hurts” flashback lines at the climax… pun not intended.

However, anyone eager to see a pedophile get what’s coming to him by way of sledgehammer, should go see Silent House – it’s a brief moment, but satisfying and tastefully shot ie. heightened with imagination.

Speaking of imagination, I’m generally pretty irritated by Hollywood remakes, so I was incredibly disappointed to find that Silent House is a remake of an Uruguayan film called La Casa Muda, which I am now eager to see because just the music on their website creeped me out.

Overall, my favorite part about watching this film was the trailer for The Raid: Redemption. Also, I highly recommend going to the movies by yourself.

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