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Movie review: Silent House

Updated on March 22, 2012


Here's the perfect example of when US remakes go bad. The original Uruguayan film was an ingenious piece of film-making; not only was it shot on a camera you can pick up on Amazon, it was also filmed in one continuous take.

The only surprise this US version has is the fact that it's not quite the big budget affair that was expected. In one sense you would expect that because of this, the film-makers involved would have a bit more artistic integrity, which, to a certain extent they do. What they fail to do is capture any of the brilliance of the original.

There was a time when Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) spent a lot of time in the family's country retreat, but that was years ago. She's back now, along with her dad John (Adam Trese) and Uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens), trying to get it in some decent shape so they can finally sell it on.

The fact that the house is old and creaky makes it a spooky place to be staying; what makes it worse is that it's miles from anywhere. Sarah seems to hear things all the time, but takes little notice of them. Then she starts to hear sounds that are difficult to ignore. With further investigating, Sarah begins to believe that there's something not quite right with the house. In fact, she comes to the conclusion that they are not alone.

The film begins promisingly enough with a crane shot overlooking Olsen's character outside. This wouldn't normally be a big deal, but as the film, like the original, is shot in one continuous take, it's a clever way to kick things off.

But the reality is however, that's as creative as the film gets. To call it a carbon copy of the original suggests that it could be considered on par with it. That is most certainly not the case. Somehow directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, whose last project was 2003's damp Open Water have managed to dilute the heightened sense of fear the original had, down to a brew so weak that it couldn't even be considered mild peril.

And although the younger sister of the Olsen twins does an admirable job at emoting suitably horrified emotions, she's let down by her supporting cast whose acting is creakier than the old house they're attempting to make-over.

There was a considerable chill present in the original film; the real time narrative helped to amplify the fear factor. And despite also being filmed in real time, this remake only manages to amplify the feeling of wanting the film to end quicker than it does.

As far as a horrifying experience goes, you are more likely to have come across scarier utility bills than this.

These two quiet properties make look similar in many ways, but as any estate agent will tell you, you really get what you pay for. This house should be avoided at all costs; you're encouraged to cross the road and visit the original instead.

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