Silent House REVIEW

Elizabeth Olsen in Silent House.


Release Date: 17 September 2012
2012 | 15 | 82 minutes | £17.99 (DVD)/£22.99 (Blu-ray)
Distributor: Studiocanal
Directors: Chris Kentis and Laura Lau
Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross

New ways of telling a horror film are always welcome, but effective though it is we suspect that the innovative approach of Silent House won’t blow-up as big as found-footage did, because it’s a darn sight trickier to pull off – unless your cameraman is a dab hand at running up stairs backwards.

It’s based on a 2010 Uruguayan film of the same name, in which a young woman and her father stay at a house to work on renovating it. A sudden crash signifies that Dad’s in trouble. We follow the daughter, in real time, as she investigates the cause: is it an intruder, or could it be something supernatural?

La Casa Muda had two talking points. Firstly, it was fibbingly presented as having been shot in one continuous take. Secondly, the ending baffled many and infuriated others.

This new English-language take comes from the makers of Open Water. Although still interesting principally as a technical exercise – despite Elizabeth Olsen’s committed central performance, wondering “How did they do that?” tends to pull you out of the moment – it justifies its existence by improving upon the original. The edits are much harder to spot (in the original, the picture generally fades to black while passing through a door), and the ending is explained with far greater clarity. Laura Lau’s script is also cleverly seeded with clues, so that when the twist comes you’re far better equipped to process it. So this is one of those very rare cases where it’s possible to recommend watching the remake first.

Extras:

A meagre selection (commentary, one-minute short, trailer), but for once that doesn’t matter, because the commentary is fascinating. The two directors talk you through the extraordinary technical challenges of making the film, pointing out, for example, where the camera was handed through a car window from one operator to another, or where a running Olsen accidentally bashed her head on the set (although they //don’t// reveal where the hidden cuts are, the swines!) For anyone interested in the practicalities of filmmaking it’s a must-watch, and doubles the entertainment value of the DVD.

Ian Berriman twitter.com/ianberriman


For an alternate perspective, read our Silent House review from the theatrical release.

Read more of our DVD reviews.

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