Silent House Review (Courtney’s Take)

Scary movies are my vice – so after seeing the preview for Silent House, and reading reviews of Elizabeth Olsen‘s remarkable performance as Martha in Martha Marcy May Marlene, I was ready to take the plunge. I have been sorely disappointed by my last few ventures into the scary movie realm, and the way this movie was marketed, specifically the one-shot technique, piqued my interest greatly.

Armed with a rather large blue raspberry Icee, I braved the theater solo, hoping to be scared out of my mind. Unfortunately, by the end of the movie, my nausea was more from the dizzying filming than fright, and I felt more duped than scared – and this is coming from the most gullible person in the world, mind you (I was once convinced that Sting was Neil Patrick Harris‘ father).

It’s difficult to come down too hard on the movie, as I was completely hooked and delightfully scared for a good portion of it. The plot, though not terribly deep, focuses on Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen), her father John (Adam Trese), and her uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens) as they work to fix up their dilapidated summer house. After a peculiar visit from a childhood friend, Sarah retreats into the house to begin the task of cleaning out her childhood room. Upon hearing some strange noises and not being able to find her father, Sarah becomes convinced that there is someone else in the house with them.

The rest of the movie is an unsettling blur, as the audience watches Sarah’s emotions unravel as she tries to find a way out of the house. All of this leads up to one of the worst movie endings ever. I never like to ruin the movie endings for anyone, because it’s just not my style, so I will preface this with a spoiler alert.

If you are at all the slightest bit intuitive and even just a tiny bit observant, by paying attention to anything that happens in the first fifteen minutes of the movie, you will be able to figure out the ending.

For the most part, the ending is really what ruins the movie. In fact, had someone contemplated a different ending for more than five minutes, they probably would have come up with something halfway decent. Instead, it left a sour taste in my mouth for what would have otherwise been a delightfully scary treat.

Still, I watched most of the movie peeking between my fingers, as I cowered in fear and attempted not to lose that blue Icee all over the unfortunate soul that sat in front of me; though, if I had to be honest, most of that was not from fear, but from the shaky camera, whose effects got old after half an hour.

One technique that is pulled off with surprising finesse is the use of ambient light versus artificial light. To have the dimly lit scenes appear so crisp on screen is a remarkable feat in itself, especially when considering the use of the one-shot filming technique. While they very well may have used some artificial light at certain points, it would be difficult to discern such.

Notably, the best part of the movie is the acting. Elizabeth Olsen shows some definite chops, and pulls off her character’s initial lack of complexity with real dimension. Many times, I feel as though actors in this genre often have no discernible talent; however, such cannot be said for Olsen. Her range of emotions is deep and raw, and she consistently convinces the audience of the horror she seems to be enduring throughout the course of the movie.

If anything, I would recommend seeing this movie, just for the sake of Elizabeth’s performance. I guarantee we will be seeing a lot more of her in the coming years. Additionally, if you can get past the ridiculous ending, the scares that lead up to it don’t completely disappoint.

Silent House – 7/10

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