Film Review: Silent House

Silent House boasts some excellent moments of tension. Nevertheless, the film falls into the same trap as so many other horrors by having a weak and incredulous final act.

Sarah is keeping her dad and her uncle company as they fix up their old holiday home. Having not been at the property since she was a young girl, Sarah has few memories of her time there. When she becomes trapped inside the house, Sarah worries there is another presence with her…

A remake of Uruguayan La Casa Muda, Silent House shares many of the same tropes with other haunted house films. Silent House features the regular set up of normality becoming quickly subverted and descending into a nightmarish situation. The film also elevates the level of threat in a way that will be familiar to most viewers.

Chris Kentis and Laura Lau’s film leaves little real mystery, despite the necessity of this to sustain the story. The narrative is lacking unfortunately. Indicators of what is to come appear early on in Silent House. These are like clangers, rather than sly hints however. A bit more ambivalence and a more coherent plot would have worked wonders, as tension is effective throughout the film.

Silent House is filmed in one continuous take. This appears partially to have been done for gimmick effect. On the one hand, the filmmakers should be applauded for generating some very tense moments despite the limitations of this filming style. Nevertheless, other aspects of the film, particularly in the final third, would have benefited from editing to make the composition look more polished and less haphazard. The location is perfect for the film, and lighting works well to generate atmosphere.

Elizabeth Olsen delivers a strong performance that really carries the film. Silent House would not have worked at all without Olsen. Elsewhere the film features some interesting casting, but perhaps it is the characters rather than the actors that are less believable.

Silent House is ultimately disappointing. It is only partially successful as a horror film.