IF THERE’S AN OLSEN SISTER IN IT, I’M SEEING IT. Simple as that. I think this movie got good reviews or had some sort of buzz around it because of some screening at a festival? I can’t remember. I was looking forward to it for some reason, and I kept thinking Clive Owen was in it. Then I remembered he was in some other shitty movie involving a house, and got sad I wouldn’t get to see Clive Owen. Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, I saw this movie that’s called Silent House. I had heard there was some sort of twist at the end, yet didn’t quite know what it was, so I guess I wasn’t exactly impartial to what was going on. I was constantly trying to predict what that twist was, and I was only partially correct. I’m going to spoil the ending for you guys, so if you don’t like spoilers, my review would be that the first 60 minutes aren’t that bad, and the last 30 minutes aren’t that good. And yes, I know it’s a remake of a horror movie from Uruguay, but I didn’t see that movie, so don’t feel obligated to leave comments about “blah blah blah THE ORIGINAL…” unless it will phyiscally pain you.
Anyone else think they just shot this on a break while filming Martha Marcy May Marlene because they had 90 minutes?
Elizabeth Olsen plays Sarah, a girl who is helping her father John (Adam Trese) and uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens) clean out their old house so it can be sold. They don’t live there anymore, so most of the windows are boarded up because kids keep stopping by to break them. While John and Peter are busy, a neighbor stops by to reflect on all the childhood memories she shared with Sarah, despite Sarah not remembering them. Sarah keeps hearing weird noises in the house, and her father says there’s nothing to worry about, but that changes when she hears a loud thud and finds her father bleeding from the head and knocked out. There’s someone in the house with her! But all the windows are boarded up and doors are locked! There’s a long period of time where she is just kind of hiding from some guy who is trying to find her, until Peter comes back from some trip. When he gets back, he is also attacked by whoever is in the house, and when Sarah follows the trail of the intruder, she finds her father, conscious, as well as Peter and the girl from next door. THIS IS WHERE IT GOT KIND OF CONFUSING. Basically, her father and uncle had molested her in the house and she had flashbacks that brought those memories back to her and the intruder was a scary memory or something and she was the one hurting her uncle and father the whole time and the neighbor was a different repressed memory and WAIT THAT DOESN’T MAKE MUCH SENSE. Anyways, she kills her dad and leaves her uncle for dead and then leaves the house.
Behind you! It’s Maggie Gyllenhaal! And she’s pissed at you for stealing her face!
Let’s talk about the good things before we get to the bad things, deal? One of the gimmicks with this movie was that it was shot in real time and in “one” take. We all know that’s not true, because way too much stuff was happening. Rather, the film was shot in ten minute chunks and then edited together to look like one shot. A few of these edits were noticeable, but for the most part, the whole thing had a good flow to it. 95% of every scene was just a camera pointed at Olsen and you maybe saw something over her shoulder that she was scared of, and despite all that pressure, I’d say she carried that weight well. One problem I have with movies where there is one character with no one to interact with is that they talk to themselves a lot to try to build some sort of narrative. REAL PEOPLE DON’T DO THIS. They don’t splash water on their faces and look in a mirror and say something motivational or remind themselves the narrative of their lives. Most of this movie she didn’t talk at all, which must have been a challenge, but it paid off. Although she did make a lot of faces where she looked like she was screaming but wasn’t, and those were kind of funny.
What it lacked in full frontal nudity was made up for in cleavage throughout.
NOW IT’S TIME FOR THE BAD. Well, BEFORE the bad, something I wasn’t sure how I felt about was the camerawork. A lot of the time it looked like I was watching that old MTV show Fear, where the camera was attached to someone as they ran around scared. Other times, the camera in the movie would clearly be running along with Sarah and, although I’m sure it gave some people motion sickness, it did have a certain authenticity to it. More authenticity than most found footage movies have these days, I’d say. As far as the ending…what the fuck? I’ve complained about movies like Identity or The Ward before where you realize you didn’t give a shit about anything you saw when you realized everyone was inside of someone’s brain. On the other hand, I am a fan of the movie High Tension, which had a similar ending that didn’t really add up the more you scrutinized it. I’d say that Silent House falls somewhere in between. You couldn’t quite tell if what was happening was a memory or if it was reality, maybe we were time-traveling, and you couldn’t really keep anything straight. I tried drawing diagrams to figure out the course of events and what was real and who did what, until I realized I didn’t care enough and gave up. On the one hand, it was the killer who was the one doing the murdering and she was imagining someone else doing them so it wasn’t as pointless as something like Identity, but it added in too many different perspectives to make it confusing.
Hold up a flashlight if you enjoy raping people!
Despite being confusing, I did like that there was one definitive moment that separated reality from crazy person fantasy imaginations. Early into the film, Sarah’s father uses a Polaroid camera to take pictures of some mold, which he was planning to send to the insurance agency. The effect of being in a dark theater and having a bright flash go off was a little jarring for not just the viewer, but also for Sarah. Throughout the film we see John and Peter finding Polaroids and hurriedly shoving them into their pockets. At one point, when the “intruder” is trying to find Sarah, the lights go off and she uses a Polaroid camera to try to see them. Again, a very intense, bright flash that lit up the whole theater. When Sarah realizes she was molested, she finds a box of Polaroids that her father and uncle took of her, presumably doing inappropriate things. I’d say that just the effect of being in a dark theater with these bright flashes was gimmicky enough, as well as was a reference to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but it also fit into the context of the story. Maybe I’m being a little too critical of a movie that I’m sure most people quickly dismissed, but it was a nice detail to include. If you want to watch Elizabeth Olsen for 90 minutes, then I guess this movie is worth checking out.
Wolfman Moon Scale