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Silent House (2012)

March 10th, 2012 by unkle lancifer · 7 Comments

I’m super busy this weekend and I don’t have time for squat but I’m only human; I had to dash to the theater to see SILENT HOUSE. It’s not like I’m compelled to see everything, this one just looked particularly up my dark, lantern-lit alley. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ruin or give away a thing. I just wanted to pass along the harmless info that ELIZABETH OLSEN is exceptional — and deserves any and all hype — and that directors CHRIS KENTIS & LAURA LAU (of OPEN WATER fame) implement the (pretend) continuous real-time one-take element to mostly decent effect and that most importantly, this movie got me good on a couple occasions. More telling than any rusty inadequate word I could come up with is the fact that upon leaving the theater, I let out an involuntary and lamentably audible sigh of relief. Seems my lungs prefer it when I make with the breathing. I don’t mean to oversell and instigate disappointment and honestly, I had a dozen quibbles invade my head toward the end but all in all, this flick agitated my hopefully imaginary heart condition just fine.

The guy who stood up behind me felt differently. I gleaned that when he proudly exclaimed, “That’s the worst movie I ever saw!” before leaving. He’s not here to defend himself so allow me to defend him; clods can’t help being clods. It’s true, it’s a waste of time to try to change them. You’re better off trying to teach a snake to use a hula-hoop. Now everybody is of course entitled to his or her opinion but that dude wasn’t offering an opinion, he was spouting a bold-faced lie wrapped in a histrionic cliché and c’mon, what a grandstanding drama queen. I guarantee that guy has seen way worse and regularly. Anyway, the bullhorn made me realize something I hadn’t before. To get properly scared in a movie requires a certain amount of empathy. Sure we get scared because we think, “What if this happened to me?” But another, equally important part is the instinctual human reaction of concern for another person’s safety and well-being. I’m not saying “Worst movie!” guy has no feelings but I’m feeling secure in suggesting that he has limited access to them. I don’t have the resources to study or back up that theory, so let’s assume I’m right based on my hatred of loud unsolicited opinions alone.

I need to change the subject before I turn into MAX VON SYDOW in HANNAH AND HER SISTERS. That’s a side of my personality I like to keep hidden away in a drawer with my extensive CYNDI LAUPER tape collection. Once upon a time, in my old apartment building, I was on the phone with a friend of mine. I don’t remember the conversation but I’m sure it was depressing. Suddenly there was a black out and the phone went dead. I could see nothing. All of the sudden there were stomping footsteps running up and down the stairs outside my apartment. It sounded like a mob. Somebody banged on my door. Well it turned out it was nothing, just a normal explainable electrical glitch but for at least three minutes or so I was seriously freaked out. “They’re finally coming to get me!” I thought. I didn’t have time to imagine concretely who was coming for me but I vaguely assumed it was the floating guys from DARK CITY or those grimacing gentlemen from BUFFY. What got to me the most though was knowing that my entire realm of safety could be blown out like a match. SILENT HOUSE made me remember that.

This movie luxuriates and cavorts in the dark, climbing under dining room tables and grabbing at your heels. It captures that bat wing paranoia that shadows your shoulder when you’re putting your key in the front door at night expecting to be tackled by every mugger ever born. From a distance it looks like a simple structure but up close, you can see certain bricks placed in a way to throw you off balance. Way before any sledge hammer busts through any wall, there’s a scourge of psychological termites (memory lapses, nervous alibis, double edged words) making the wood soft. More swaying than anything though is ELIZABETH OLSEN’s persuasive, performance, which sweeps you into the ring of panic with its realness alone. Sadly the final act of SILENT doesn’t deliver the power punch that the build-up deserves but by that time I was fine, having already received exactly what I came for. I guess I should give loud mouth guy a break. For some people horror movies are more about the slot machine payoff. In my opinion there’s too much going on in in the darkness here to throw it all away just because you don’t like what the lights being turned on reveals. Hey, now that I think about it, loud guy was the perfect audience member right until his own final act- maybe he and the movie SILENT HOUSE are perfect together.

Tags: Trauma Au Courant

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 cmcmcmcmNo Gravatar // Mar 10, 2012 at 9:57 am

    You are definitely right based on your hatred of loud unsolicited opinions alone.

    You would even be right if it were a solicited idiotic imdb opinion! I actually ran across a thread last night – during one of my low imdb board moments – that started out as a question about the contemporary DVD cover on a 70s made-for-TV movie (Good Against Evil 1977) that eventually devolved into everyone agreeing that all made-for-TV movies suck.

    It was a very pleasant and well thought out conversation indeed, and completely renewed my faith in other people’s opinions and taste.

  • 2 Jeff AllardNo Gravatar // Mar 10, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Unk, I wish I had a nickel every time that same idiot sat behind me in the movie theater. Somehow he really gets around. There’s a whole laundry list of movies I’ve seen in the theaters where it was loudly proclaimed to be “the worst movie ever!” as the end credits rolled – everything from Screamers to Demon Knight to Frailty to The Box. Admittedly I can see these flawed films not appealing to everyone but I always wonder what the movie collections of these self-styled cinephiles look like.

  • 3 Erin LashleyNo Gravatar // Mar 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    I loved Silent House, but did not review it on my blog because I get so depressed when I write about a highly symbolic and ultimately ambiguous movie and then get thousands of hits from people who are begging Google for an explanation. I apologize if I sound like a snob, but I’m venting my own frustration on the “worst movie ever” crowd.

    Luckily my husband and I were the only people in the theater yesterday. I’m actually surprised it got a wide release, but thank God it did, because we almost never get to see anything at the multiplex but Adam Sandler and Saw sequels out here in the sticks.

  • 4 knobgobblerNo Gravatar // Mar 10, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    ‘Worst Movie’ guy must fly out to Vegas and watch movies as well because I’ve also had the pleasure of witnessing his refined critiques… as my tolerance for going to movie theaters grows every weaker.

    Still, I’d been wanting to see the Uruguayan original version of ‘Silent House’… but maybe this will do.

  • 5 HarryNo Gravatar // Mar 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Heh, I got after a friend just recently about the ‘worst ever’ criticism, because– really? seriously? the worst EVER? come on, dude. But I remember when I saw ‘Shadow Play’ (with Dee Wallace [Stone]) in 1986; by my mid-teens I was already a pretty seasoned horror fan, and I knew a load of crap when I saw it. I could probably find a few endearing things about it if I saw it again today, maybe even a lot of them, but at the time it just felt like the stinkiest, most pretentious load of crap I’d ever seen. After the movie, as I was waiting outside for a ride home, a guy walked past with his girlfriend and said to her, “That’s the worst movie I’ve ever seen.” I wanted to give the guy a thumbs-up and say, “Yeah, me too,” but I was too busy trying to look sophisticated while I waited for my mom to pick me up in her Toyota Corolla hatchback with the orange racing stripes.

    ‘Silent House’ looks great, though. Do I detect hints of ‘Ils’ in the trailer? That’s the first thing I thought of when I watched it. I really enjoyed that, so if it’s along those lines, I’ll be looking forward to it.

  • 6 PenhNo Gravatar // Mar 10, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    I think I prefer this to the original version, especially because the pacing is much better. The original had way too many stretches where suspense limply dissolved into “waiting for something to happen,” and the remake does a much better job of keeping things moving. The eventual reveal of why the bad guy has such a bug up his ass might come across as a little obvious, but the original was so ambiguous that I might be overreacting. Overall, I’m pretty happy with it, and I hope it gets some good results at the box office. Or can I be cool and just say “good box office”? Do they even have boxes in movie theater offices any more?

  • 7 micksterNo Gravatar // Mar 18, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    I saw it today. My friend and I were the only people in the theater, which was cool and sad at the same time. I really enjoyed this one. I was tense and on the edge for the entire movie. I was not disappointed in the ending. I caught on to a vibe early in the film that ended up playing out in the end. I like scary movies that make you think. I am highly impressed with the younger Olsen sister.

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