USA, 2012, Chris Kentis/Laura Lau, 88 min.
The setup of Silent House is not surprising. A young heroine (Elizabeth Olsen), her father and her uncle are cleaning up an old summer home the family owns so they can sell it. Things turn bad quickly, and the house soon becomes the setting for the usual horror tropes.
Those tropes are unsurprising, sometimes effective, sometimes not. But the gimmick of the film, and really the thing that elevates it above a standard horror outing, is that it appears to be filmed in one shot. The camera starts following Olsen at the beginning and does not cut away from the action until the credits roll.
This allows us to enjoy the film on a technical level throughout instead of only intermittently as a horror film. And the third act effectively highlights the use of that gimmick. Without ruining it, I’ll just say that the film cleverly includes breaks from reality, and some well-timed character blocking. It’s all impressively presented.
The film is a remake of an Uruguayan film of the same name, which I have not seen. But here Elizabeth Olsen does a great job in a demanding performance. The one-shot idea is used in some ingenious ways. Overall, it’s an interesting and well-paced film. Of course, you have to give a lot of credit for that to the unsung hero, the person who had to hold the camera.