Thursday, August 23, 2012

Movie Review: “Silent House”

Runtime: 87 minutes
Release Date: March 9, 2012
Rating: R

It takes a hell of an actress to pull off a movie where she’s pretty much the only actor, but Elizabeth Olsen can do it. I wanted to see “Silent House” from the moment I saw the first trailer, and it actually came pretty close to meeting my expectations.

Sarah (Olsen, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”) is helping clean out her family’s lakehouse before they sell it. It’s just her, her dad (Adam Trese), and her mother’s brother Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens). The two men barely get along, and her dad seems frustrated that she’s not moving fast enough cleaning out the bedroom she once shared with her cousins.

A knock on the door introduces us to Sophia (Julia Taylor Ross). Sophia hugs Sarah and reminds her of all the time they spent playing together as kids. Though Sarah doesn’t remember her, she does agree to meet up with her later that night to hang out. After a fight with her dad, Peter leaves and heads into town for some tools.

Sarah locks the door behind him because the door only locks with an old-fashioned key on the inside. She helps herself to a beer and finally starts cleaning out the house. When she hears a noise upstairs, she rushes to her dad’s side and he investigates. He comes across a series of photographs and stuffs them in his pocket, telling her that it’s insurance stuff. When they get back to work, she hears a second noise and discovers her dad injured on the floor.

“Silent House” then evolves into a dark and twisted movie about the dangers of family and things that go bump in the night. As Sarah begins seeing mysterious visitors in the home, she uncovers a twisted story that relates to her family and in particular her father.

The first half of “Silent House” is exactly what I was hoping for in a horror movie. Delinquents broke out the windows in the house, and Peter covered the broken glass with plywood. The inside of the house is almost completely dark, illuminated only by candles and lanterns that the characters carry with them. That dark setting adds a dramatic atmosphere to the film, making it hard to see what’s coming.

As much as I enjoyed the first part of the movie, the second half gets bogged down by details and unrealistic elements. When Sarah manages to escape the house, she lets her uncle take her back and actually goes inside the house. I made a joke about the ending of the movie, which turned out to be the actual ending, and I really hate when that happens.

The last part of the movie almost feels like a letdown because you know what you want to happen and what you think might happen, and you will likely end up disappointed. “Silent House” is the kind of movie that I would want to watch again, but only for the tight and exciting first half.

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