out of Five
Running time: 85
Silent House is creepy and claustrophobic and features a strong performance from Elizabeth Olsen, but it fails to improve on the original film thanks to a poorly paced middle section and an annoying tendency towards over-explaining things.
What's it all about?
Directed by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau (Open Water), Silent House is a remake of 2010's Uruguayan thriller The Silent House (La Casa Muda). Elizabeth Olsen stars as Sarah, a teenager who agrees to help her father John (Adam Trese) and her uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens) renovate their dilapidated, family owned lake house. Unfortunately, the electricity is out and the windows are all blacked out, so they have to carry out their work by torch-light. However, while Peter is out getting supplies, John suddenly disappears and Sarah becomes increasingly terrified, hearing strange noises, glimpsing shadowy figures and finding the door mysteriously locked. But what is really going on?
Silent House retains the original film's central gimmick of being apparently filmed in one continuous take, although, as with the 2010 film, it's easy enough to tell where the joins are. The effect of this is that we experience Sarah's ordeal in real time, which, in theory, at least, allows for a steady build-up of suspense. Similarly, Olsen is extremely good as Sarah and the constant near darkness and continual close-ups of her increasingly terrified face are effectively creepy and atmospheric.
The main problem is that the remake doesn't quite manage to deliver the same thrills as the original film. For one thing, the middle section of the film slows to a crawl, with precious little in the way of actual scares and it is often difficult to tell what's going on.
Similarly, they might as well have called this The Silent House for Idiots, because the script feels compelled to explain what's going on, rather than leave room for ambiguity. Ultimately, this backfires severely, as it leaves the audience feeling justifiably cheated.
Given that the original film had minimal dialogue, this is a largely pointless remake, though it's just about worth seeing for Olsen's study in terror.