If you watch a bad movie once, it isn't your fault. You didn't know that it was going to be a bad movie. If you watch a bad movie twice, and you voluntarily drove to the theater, parked and sat in an auditorium for 90 minutes to do so, then there is no one to blame but yourself. Silent House is a remake of last year's Spanish-language film of the same name, and while it improves upon some of the original's flaws, it is still a stupid, dull and absurdly disappointing horror movie.
Elizabeth Olsen stars as Sarah, a twenty something girl who is helping her father and cousin remodel their old summer home. As she's working in another room, she hears a noise and her dad disappears. Someone is in the house. Terrified, she tries to escape, but the house, boarded up and sealed to keep out vagrants, doesn't let her go. Trapped, she does her best to hide and not to scream.
That last sentence sums up the plot pretty well, actually. Sadly, there isn't much more to it than that.
Oh, did I mention the movie is shot in one continuous, uninterrupted take? Well, allegedly.
The single-take approach is an ambitious one, and it could work given the right plot and story. Silent House, like its source material La Casa Muda, does not have the right plot. It's a horror movie set in a creepy house, but there are so few plot developments that the movie begins to run on fumes after 20 minutes. Olsen spends most of her time whimpering in fear or screaming, and does little else.
That gets tiring after a while.
In my movie review of La Casa Muda, I called the protagonist's actions "befuddling, even hilarious, as she constantly turns her back on the places from which the killer would most naturally appear." Director Gustavo Hernandez is "completely incapable of making his [one-take] gimmick suspenseful." Directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau improve upon this aspect a little bit; Sarah's actions don't seem aimless. She doesn't spend an hour looking at walls, photographs and bookshelves like protagonist Laura did in the original, and for that reason alone 2012's Silent House is immediately an improvement.
The ludicrously stupid ending isn't quite so painful this time around, either, but that may be just because I already knew what to expect. My reaction to the ending in the original? Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me.
And not in a good way.
The problem with Silent House is that while it improves upon some of the flaws of the original, it doesn't fix the root problem: the story is boring, stupid and incapable of sustaining 90 minutes of suspense. The one-take treatment could work in a horror movie, if there were more characters and more interesting things happened, but watching Elizabeth Olsen run around inside a house for an hour is far from interesting.
Silent House is a bad movie because it's a bad idea. Elizabeth Olsen tries her best, but she was doomed the moment she agreed to star in a remake of a gimmicky film that didn't work the first time around. I should have known. I shouldn't have even bothered. But I convinced myself that this time it would be better. Shame on me.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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