Silent House

Directed By: Chris Kentis and Laura Lau

Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross, and Haley Murphy

These days, the horror genre is more predictable than ever.  You get a few kills, a few hot girls, and more than a few bad actors.  When there's talk of the downfall of modern mainstream cinema, the conversation wouldn't be complete without mentioning how crappy horror flicks are these days.  That's why I'm so surprised that the talented young actress Elizabeth Olsen has decided to take a foray into horror.  Even though she only starred in the acclaimed indie hit Martha Marcy May Marlene this past fall, I can confidently say that a movie like Silent House is beneath her.

Sarah (Olsen), her dad John (Adam Trese), and her uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens) are cleaning up their lakeside vacation home so that they can sell it.  Squatters have gotten into the nasty habit of breaking into the home, and the family no longer thinks maintaining the home is worth the hassle.  When Peter and John get into a fight about how to handle the mold in the house, Peter decides to leave.  Meanwhile, Sarah and John continue to work to fix up the house until some bloodthirsty menace incapacitates John and takes it over.  This menace proceeds to introduce Sarah to her own personal hell.  

Though it's marketed toward the mainstream crowd, Silent House should not have been slated for a wide release.  The mainstream crowd that goes to the theater expecting their basic horror flick will be thoroughly disappointed.  Silent House is not a film with a lot of blood or a lot of kills.  There's no Jigsaw or Ghostface out to kill everyone.  There are just everyday ordinary people.  Consequently, it's a film driven entirely by the performance of its star Elizabeth Olsen, and she certainly has the talent to carry the film.  The only problem is that Olsen's character is a punk that doesn't make wise decisions in the moment.  Her character is irritating as hell, and that takes a great deal away from the film since Silent House is pretty much the Elizabeth Olsen Show.

Because Silent House is naturally more geared toward an independent moviegoer, it doesn't follow the horror formula as rigorously as it could have.  Directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau decided to take a big risk that doesn't pay off in the final product.  They decided to record the film as a “single” take.  This effectively means that the entire film feels like it consists of one long continuous take.   I understand that they intended to make the film feel more authentic by doing this.  They intended to make it feel like real life.  In the end, they made it much more boring to watch.  Nobody wants to go to the movies to watch real life.  That's exactly the thing we're escaping for a couple of hours.  Because of poor decisions like this one, I was really tempted to get some shuteye during this flick. 

There's a huge twist in Silent House that's common to most indie flicks.  You expect the vacation home to be Squatters 'R Us when in fact it's something different altogether.  As interesting as this twist is, it’s poorly developed and is simply not enough to boost Silent House's score on the Sobriety Test.  You need to get tipsy to get through this one.  Grab a few White Russians because Silent House gets a 0.09% rating.