Silent House [Blu-Ray] Chris Kentis & Laura Lau

Silent House [Blu-Ray] Chris Kentis & Laura Lau
Much like directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau's feature debut cult hit, Open Water, Silent House relies on protracted tension and an overall gimmick to generate thrills. Both films exist within a vacuum of isolation ― Water, a shark-infested ocean and House, a very rural cottage ― leaving characters to defend against predators without the conveniences and comforts of modern society. In a way, they're parables about the dangers of rejecting social evolution and technological advancement, reminding people that should they disobey rules or reject the value of the status quo, they'll be punished. After watching Silent House and experiencing its inevitable twist, or lack thereof, this didactic becomes somewhat muddled, much like the film, which proves tense and moderately compelling on initial viewing, only to have very little repeat value. The impetus behind this competently made but forgettable horror is that of real-time terror, since the film gives the impression that we're following Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) with one single-shot for the entire movie. Initially, this trick plays flawlessly as she wanders through her darkened, boarded-up cottage with her father (Adam Trese) and uncle (Eric Sheffer Stevens), packing things up and enjoying a beer, only to hear strange noises and encounter a peculiar neighbour named Sophia (Julia Taylor Ross) on her porch. Once the banging starts and Sarah begins her descent into terror and panic, the hidden edits become clearer, as does the inevitable outcome of this increasingly surreal home invasion movie. Going in without spoilers, many of Sarah's experiences, including an entire sequence lit only by a Polaroid camera, work in a visceral capacity, propelling this simple narrative, which vacillates between feminist and misogynist, depending on how literally you interpret the action and the handling of female psychology. It's just unfortunate that it's merely a one-off experience, since the second viewing lacks all tension and exaggerates the occasional plot hole. Included with the Blu-Ray is a commentary track with the directors, who discuss shooting in a house not built for film production, with the added challenge of shooting in 15-minute takes. From a technical standpoint, this information proves intriguing, in a film school capacity, offering tips and insights from those that have been there. (eOne)