The Silent House – film review

A shot in the dark

Release date:
8 April 2011
15 * 86 minutes
Optimum Releasing
Gustavo Hernandez
Florencia Colucci, Abel Tripaldi, Gustavo Alonso

This Uruguayan chiller is a bit ropey. Not in a cheap and tacky way, but in that it apes Hitchcock’s celebrated movie by creating a taut tale of dread in a single continuous hand-held shot (and yes, smartarses, we know – Rope actually had nine concealed cuts). That cleverly and handsomely achieved gimmick compensates for troublesome motivation and suspension of disbelief issues to make this a genuinely fresh treat for horror fans.

The titular abode is a dilapidated, remote cottage that teenage Laura (Florencia Colucci) and her dad (Gustavo Alonso) have been hired to clear out, ready for putting it on the market. Arriving at dusk, the duo are warned by the departing owner (Abel Tripaldi) not to roam the dark rooms, and to kip overnight in the lounge. But no sooner is Pa snoring than Laura hears strange noises in the gloom and suspects they are not alone…

While the single-take conceit exhibits Hernandez’s technical inventiveness and impressive sleight of hand and provides an undeniable visceral thrill, it also exposes in-every-frame Colucci’s acting limits and some credibility problems (the action is forced to stay in the house, despite common sense instincts to flee).

Randomly shifting perspectives, motion-sickness camerawork and a murky final-act twist may not endear either, but these are minor quibbles for a $6,000 movie that showcases real filmmaking talent, innovation and an ability to deliver more dark jumps and creeps than many a multi-million-dollar blockbuster.

Jane Crowther