The Silent House Reviews
The camera work, in terms of movement, is inventive and consistently interesting. At various points we see the action reflected in a mirror or in one excellent sequence through the lens of a polaroid camera, only seeing light when the camera flashes. It makes for a nerve-wracking moment. In fact this is quite a scary film, it certainly ruffled me more than any film has done for a while. That said it isn't perfect, despite this being a very good horror film for the most part it is mainly about the atmosphere and production, there is very little in terms of plot and when the plot does begin to thicken things do start to fall apart a bit. In fact once you start to try to make sense of the plot or the characters actions it begins to look less impressive. It is best viewed simply as a low budget chiller which has some effective scares and a convincingly ominous atmosphere.
While not a complete failure of a movie -- visually appealing, palpable tension, truly an ambitious piece of film -- The Silent House suffers from one of the most illogical endings a movie has ever produced. What could have possibly been a horror classic (some people may tout it as just that) turns into a mess of a film.
We have a father and daughter, Wilson and Laura, who are being commissioned to clean up an old, dusty, abandoned home for a friend, Nestor, who plans on selling it. Nestor gives them a single warning before leaving: to not go upstairs as the floor isn't as sturdy. When the daughter hears several bumps upstairs she feels uneasy in an already uneasy setting. As it turns out, she and her father are not the only ones in the home.
What makes this film unique is that it is done in a single take. There are no edits at all, which is pretty remarkable. It's not the most original thing -- as it has been done before -- but the style in which it is filmed is beautiful. For a single-take movie, the pacing of it undoubtedly suffers. We get every pause that would happen in a real life horror film, we might not be able to see things as clearly if it were shot in the format of a regular movie, and some angles that would have helped the movie's tension were lost. But we do get an experimental film that knows its limits but embraces its strength, which is the single take.
Gustavo Hern√°ndez is a capable director, as evidenced by this film (Ti West supporters would love his directorial vision). He has the same lingering shots that Ti West has, and is able to do a lot with a limited budget and a handheld. He knows how to frame a shot, when to keep it close to his actors and when to give them space and let the picture breathe. However, much like the problem with West's films, the writing is bad.
The Silent House is a great tension builder. There are several scenes in which the suspense and atmosphere of the film is tangible, like when Laura must navigate through the dark using a Polaroid camera. But after it gets to the last 20 minutes, The Silent House tries to be more than what it should be. It wants to be a mind bending film, in addition to it being a visual splendor, but it doesn't need to be -- nor is it.
The ending ultimately ruins the status of the film, and I'm sure that's what hurt the remake released earlier this year. Although the actors are pretty convincing, and the direction is spot on, the story seriously cripples the credulity of the film. 4.5/10
*POSSIBLE SPOILER* The ending is reminiscent of a french horror flick released about 10 years ago, but unlike that film there isn't much action in here.