Not gonna lie, y'all--I am way more afraid in my parents' quiet, suburban home than my urban apartment. True, I could get mugged or something on my walk home, but I'm probably never going to get BTK'd. That sort of stuff happens where nobody can hear your screams. And that sense of helpless isolation is exactly what is so scary about Silent House, a new thriller from Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, the duo behind Open Water.
Sarah, a young woman(played masterfully by Elizabeth Olsen) is working with her father to renovate the family's dilapidated lake house. Aside from the boarded up windows to keep out squatters and rat-chewed wiring, which leaves her and her father in the dark save for their lanterns and flashlights, nothing seems too strange. But once things get creepy--which they do, fast--there is no hope for escape.
Silent House is unlike any horror movie I've seen before. The home intruder plot may look like standard fare, but Kentis and Lau approach the project with a fresh spin. The film was shot and edited to appear as one long take, meaning the camera never strays far from Sarah's point of view. There are no jump cuts to scary ghouls leaping out of the shadows, no cheap thrills you find too often in other horror flicks. At 85-minutes long, the real-time narrative in Silent House is deeply disturbing because as the audience, you feel just as trapped as the characters on the screen.
Sound plays an important role in this film. There are certain audible cues, like the unmistakable sound of a Polaroid camera, that help the audience piece together the story. The long silences in even the most tranquil opening sequences are unnerving as you follow Sarah from room to room, establishing the layout of the home. Noises go from the occasional harmless creak to threatening thuds. As the situation tailspins into the ominous, it's hard to distinguish what is real and what is imagined. I don't want to spoil the ending, but I will say this movie is just as much about trauma as it is about what goes bump in the night.
After being captivated by her performance in the equally unsettling Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene, I was excited to see my new favorite Olsen creep me out again. The innovative long-take sacrifices traditional story-telling elements like exposition, but by the end of the film I felt like I understood Sarah's character. With the camera so closely trained on her face, she carried the plot wonderfully, finding new ways to express built-up angst and abject terror.
Overall, it's a scary, psychological thriller with a creative approach to filmmaking. It's definitely worth a viewing...that is, if you're brave enough.
Silent House, a remake of a 2010 Uraguayan film by the same name, premieres today, March 9th. It's rated R. Watch the trailer below.