MOVIE REVIEW: Silent House

Film: Silent House
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen
Directed by: Chris Kentis and Laura Lau

The first great horror film of 2012 has arrived.

Built on a gimmick that is developed from content over style, Silent House arrives in North American theaters today with a tale of home invasion captured in a single take (though reports claim there are few carefully place cuts). The film that relies heavily on cliches, but thanks to strong acting and an engaging concept, I dare say anyone that loves horror will find something to like about this film.

Elizabeth Olsen stars as Sarah, a young woman helping her father and uncle lock up the family’s lakeside retreat. The house is big, old, and sits alone a few hundred yards from the water, but what really makes it ideal for this film is the current status of residence as a result of the moving process. The windows are boarded, the power and phone lines have been turned off, and not a single person has a cell phone capable of making a call, which means Sarah and her family are left alone in the dark with only a few moving supplies, flashlights, and lanterns at their disposal.

Roughly ten minutes after the film begins, Sarah and her father are left alone at the home to finish packing. Soon, a noise from upstairs causes them to wonder if they are indeed the only ones in the home, and we suddenly find ourselves thrust into the heart of one of the greatest cat and mouse thrillers of recent memory. The single take gimmick allows for the audience to not only become worried and later frightened along with the family, but then forces you to stick by their side as tensions (and fears) rise, with no hope for escape.

Silent House would be a dull film if it were not for the jaw-dropping performance of Elizabeth Olsen. She may have earned acting cred with 2011’s Martha May Marcy Marlene, which was a fantastic performance, but this film allows her to explore fear and how to convey it in ways that few, if any other films have ever allowed. Forced to be silent, her entire being is left silently screaming for help while simultaneously rationalizing her impending fate and brainstorming potential solutions. It’s a role that will never be recognized as much as it should because it hails from a genre many cinephiles view as silly, but I’ll be damned if it’s not one of the finest performance I’ve seen in recent memory.

Very, very few times do films live up to their promise, but Silent House does just that and then adds a dozen extra twists and frights just to thank you for your time. Directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau have crafted a top notch scarefest that is guaranteed to leave you afraid to wonder your house at night. Grab a friend (or something to hold on to tightly) and see this film in theaters as soon as you can. It will still be great in a few weeks, or even on DVD/VOD, but to experience it spoiler free in a cinema is an entirely different experience should not miss.

Review written by: James Shotwell (Twitter)

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