Silent House: "Daddy, What Did They Do To You"

Director: Chris Kentis
               Laura Lau
Writer:    Laura Lau
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen
               Adam Trese
               Eric Sheffer Stevens
               Julia Taylor Ross
Rating:    ****

Release Date: 04/05/12  

When Elizabeth Olsen first burst on the scene in Martha Marcy May Marlene, a lot of people suspected her fame would be fleeting and she would soon fade away like her older sisters (Mary-Kate & Ashley olsen), luckily this is not so. Her terrific and terrifying performance in Silent House is equally astounding and ensures that this horror flick is a nail-biting, edge of the seat experience.

A remake of Uruguayan film La Casa Muda, the simple premise revolves around a young woman called Sarah (Olsen) being terrorised in her family's lakeside holiday home after visiting it for renovations, alongside her father and uncle (Trese & Stevens). She is soon menaced by an unseen presence and unable to escape due to the boarded windows and doors that have been locked shut. 

(L-R) Eric Sheffer Stevens, Elizabeth Olsen
& Adam Trese
In sensible clothing (for once) and a handy little light in her hand, she must run, hide and fight for her life in this real time flick. Lots of adrenalin-fuelled chases ensue, as the suspense continues to mount until a somewhat questionable ending which manages to disappoint rather than fulfil.  

Silent House is being sold as a 'one shot' movie, with only a few 'invisible' cuts, and of course set in real time. I'll admit this does sound rather gimmicky, but a combination of Olsen selling the scares and terrific handheld camerawork results in the viewer feeling like an active participant in such a claustrophobic environment.

There was one scene in particular that really shows the effects of the camera use. The moment when Sarah finally manages to break off some of the wood boarding up a window, allowing a simple beam of natural light into the dark and fearsome interior. The feeling of relief is so bizarrely euphoric, that as the audience we too feel like we are in a darkened room, so this light is just as effective on us as it is her.

Olsen's brilliance is truly shown in a brutally raw sequence in which she is hiding in the dark just inches from her attacker, her face writhing in agony as she emits a silent 'scream'. Her performance should also be acclaimed for its technical merits; as the long and intricately choreographed takes require the perfect movement to hit the right marks at the right time, all while in the middle of some hectic camerawork and violent threats that are slowly closing in all around her.

Elizabeth Olsen
What truly makes the film even more emotive and cold is the lack of a real soundtrack, just the sounds of the surrounding peril are the ones that score her terror. Sure there is the odd bit of music, but the jumps aren't reliant on loud background music, just pure tension and terror. The strengths of this film really thrive on the audience being taken in fully, plus the authentic and raw emotions of Sarah in such a horrific predicament, with the camera tightly framing her horrid situation.

A relentless and effective piece of cinema, Silent House will, let's be honest, not be to everyonesliking. After all, many view cinema, and the horror genre, as a means of escapism. Yet the uncomfortable feeling of entrapment is the true force here. Whether that fear is an unpleasant or exciting experience depends on the person watching.

Silent House - Trailer