Starring Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese and Eric Sheffer Stevens

Directed by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau

Written by Laura Lau

Indie darling Elizabeth Olsen follows up her star-making turn in last fall’s Martha Marcy May Marlene with Silent House, a remake of 2010’s La casa muda, a Uruguayan horror film which received some attention when it played Cannes. Open Water’s Chris Kentis helms the remake with that film’s producer Laura Lau co-directing and writing the script. Both films are based around the hook that everything takes place in one continuous shot in real time. Fortunately, Silent House surpasses that gimmick thanks to Olsen’s riveting performance and an ending that imbues the film with more soul than one might expect.

The story is simple: Sarah (Olsen) and her father John (Trese) are restoring the family’s secluded lake house along with John’s brother Peter (Stevens). As night falls, Sarah hears strange noises and John investigates. Sarah finds him injured and herself stalked by a figure we never quite see. Who is this unseen stranger, and does he have anything to do with Sophia (Julia Taylor Ross), the childhood friend Sarah can’t seem to remember? And what else is Sarah not choosing to remember?

While Kentis and Lau did not actually shoot the film in one shot of course, the editing is seamless, and those who choose not to focus on that technicality will be rewarded with an efficient little thrill engine thanks to Olsen’s terrified performance and her directors’ immaculate choreography. Lau’s script expertly unveils pieces of information which make the final reveal unexpected, tragic, and awful, while she and Kentis’s take on the material makes for a surreal film-going experience that betrays its indie roots and makes it more than just a Friday night spookshow.

One word of caution: depending on your fellow moviegoers, you may find yourself having to endure disrespectful giggling and cries of “don’t go there, bitch!” Guaranteed, though, that that immaturity will cease in the last 15 minutes as the full seriousness of Sarah’s situation becomes apparent. A silent house indeed.

Rating: 3.5/5



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