Silent House

March 11th, 2012








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Silent House

Still of Elizabeth Olsen in Silent HouseStill of Elizabeth Olsen in Silent HouseKim Stolz at event of Silent HouseStill of Elizabeth Olsen in Silent HouseStill of Elizabeth Olsen in Silent HouseStill of Elizabeth Olsen in Silent House

Plot
Trapped inside her family's lakeside retreat, a young woman finds she is unable to contact the outside world as events become increasingly ominous in and around the house.

Release Year: 2011

Rating: 5.5/10 (785 voted)

Critic's Score: 49/100

Director: Chris Kentis

Stars: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens

Storyline
Trapped inside her family's lakeside retreat, a young woman finds she is unable to contact the outside world as events become increasingly ominous in and around the house.

Writers: Gustavo Hernández, Laura Lau

Cast:
Elizabeth Olsen - Sarah
Adam Trese - John
Eric Sheffer Stevens - Peter
Julia Taylor Ross - Sophia
Adam Barnett - Stalking Man
Haley Murphy - Little Girl

Release Date: 9 March 2012



Technical Specs

Runtime:



Did You Know?

Trivia:
The entire movie was shot to mimic one continuous real-time take, with no cuts from start to finish. It was shot in roughly 10 minute segments then edited to hide the cuts.



User Review

Could have been great...

Rating: 2/10

If not for the filmmakers deliberately sacrificing content for supposed style, "Silent House" could have been an intelligent and disturbing horror film -- perhaps even a classic. All the elements were in place: creepy location, good actress, decent story with a few twists. But regrettably, "Open Water" directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau's decision to remake a low-budget 2010 Uruguayan film also includes its main gimmick: filming the entire movie in one (supposedly) unbroken, continuous take. And therein lies the problem.

This film, while ambitious on a technical level, demonstrates the importance of building up needed character and story elements no matter how innovative the camera work may be. In this picture, we know virtually nothing about the main character -- where she comes from, what she wants... how can we be expected to care or understand what happens to her? How are we expected to comprehend complex story revelations when half the time we can't even see the girl's face?

By emphasizing style over content, Kentis has sacrificed drama and effective storytelling. Hitchcock fared better back in 1948 with his experiment (some would say failed experiment) with extremely long takes, "Rope." Generally agreed to be one of his lesser efforts, Hitch's sole foray into real-time, single-location filmmaking worked to an extent because his characters were so well-defined and the story effectively constructed. Of course, he never made another film this way again, and for good reason: 1. audiences generally don't care how a film is made (filmmakers and critics do) and 2. the elimination of editing means stripping a film of one of its most important and creative components.

Editing is what separates movies from theater. It's an essential process that allows a filmmaker to creatively shape a story and actors' performances. Miracles can be worked in the cutting room. Scenes that don't work can be re-worked or removed. Performances can be strengthened and improved. Pacing can be improved. Suspense can be built. A director eliminating the editing phase of his film is like a sculptor hacking off one of his hands. So what at first might seem like a noble and innovative experiment in style is actually one of the most foolish and damaging things a film director can possibly do. He may believe he has achieved something significant and profound, but -- at least in this case -- the storytelling suffers greatly, and the audience pays the price: everything takes forever to happen. A slow, mundane conversation, which could have been sped up in the cutting room, now drones on forever. A walk to find a dead body, which should have happened in mere seconds, now takes minutes as characters plod about from room to room, being careful not to lose the cameraman following behind them.

Interestingly, "Silent House" fails in all the ways "Open Water" (which might have made a better one-take, real-time movie) succeeds. "Open Water" may have looked like a home movie shot with a camcorder, but it worked. It worked because we got to know the characters, we cared about them. We wanted to find out if they would survive... and how they would survive. With "Silent House," we don't know WHO the hell the girl is, WHERE the hell she's come from, and WHAT the hell she wants! So ultimately, we really don't give a damn. Why? The director was too busy worrying about his complicated camera moves.

There may be a place for a real-time, single-shot film... but this story and screenplay was unfortunately not it.

Sorry, Chris! I certainly don't mean to be unkind -- and I would happily give your film ten stars if filmmaking was about all creative, hand-held camera-work and precise focus-pulling. But last time I checked, it wasn't.

That said, you are without question a talented and ambitious filmmaker, and I consider "Open Water" one of the most frightening and bold exercises in low-budget filmmaking EVER.

I wish you continued success, and eagerly anticipate your next cinematic endeavor.




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