SILENT HOUSE (eOne, 2011) D: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau, w/ Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NN Rating: NNN
Silent House makes two smart moves that set it a little apart from the run-of-the-mill haunted house tale.
First, it plays out in real time. Twenty-something Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) meets her father (Adam Trese) outside a house by a lake. The nastiness starts right away, escalating till the end. Second, we're with Sarah all the way: she's either in the shot or we're watching from her point of view.
These elements work together and separately to keep us off balance. We know there are other people in the house. Are they real or ghosts? There are good reasons to go either way. There's no room for exposition, so you're hanging on every detail, looking for clues. That effort pays off in the end.
Olsen is alone on screen a lot, and Sarah panics easily (something else to wonder about), so we spend too much time listening to nothing but her short, fast breathing. It does get tedious. But Olsen brings more than one note to her terror and fashions a character with more depth than the generic horror movie heroine.
Directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau make the house look bigger on the inside than it does from the outside and create a good, though not perfect, illusion that we're watching one continuous shot.
The brief extras package contains little information and none about the challenges of making a real-time movie.
EXTRAS Cast and crew interviews, on-set footage. English, French audio. English SDH subtitles.