Silent House

  • Review Date: March 9, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Horror movie has more style (and blood) than story.
  • Review Date: March 9, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 88 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Not much in the way of positive themes. The three family members (father, daughter, and uncle) sometimes don't treat each other very well, and they behave suspiciously from time to time. Some of the backstory and the movie's themes are deliberately muddled and obscure.

Positive role models

The main character spends most of the movie running around in terror. Though her values are sometimes questionable, she does make a few attempts at being brave and strong.


Lots of blood in the movie's final third. A gun is drawn and shot. Though nothing is really spoken aloud, there are clues that some type of child pornography has taken place (or perhaps something even more sinister and/or violent). Other brief acts of beating and torture. Scary figures appear, and other nightmarish images are shown.


The main character wears a cleavage-displaying outfit throughout; it's very overt and could almost be considered "partial nudity." The main character's uncle gazes at her in an uncomfortable and inappropriate way.


Language is infrequent but includes strong words like "s--t," "ass," "damn," "oh my God," "goddamn," and "a--hole," as well as one "f--k."


"Facebook" is mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters occasionally drink beer and other hard drinks; empty beer bottles are shown.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the horror movie Silent House (from the directors of tense indie hit Open Water) includes some not entirely explained backstory involving some kind of child pornography (or worse). Onscreen, there's lots of blood, guns and gunshots, scary figures, and beatings. The main character wears clothing that displays plenty of cleavage. Language is infrequent but includes strong words like "s--t" and "f--k." Some drinking is involved, with a negative air around it.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) is helping her father, John (Adam Trese), and Uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens) clean out a rural family house to put it up for sale. Sarah's childhood friend, Sophia (Julia Taylor Ross), turns up for a visit -- but oddly, Sarah can't remember her. Soon Sarah starts hearing scary noises. When her father goes to investigate, he disappears; she finds his body, knocked unconscious. Her uncle tries to help, but then Sarah starts seeing creepy figures in the shadows. All of the trouble leads back to some sinister events that once occurred in the house, but can Sarah figure it all out in time?

Is it any good?


Last time out, husband and wife co-directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau came up with Open Water, an inventive low-budget chiller set almost exclusively in one spot. Now they've done it again with Silent House (a remake of a Uruguayan horror movie), this time employing a fascinating structure made up of what looks like a single, unbroken shot (though in reality, it's probably at least three or four shots). The result is an entirely unique rhythm for a horror film. Without the reassurance of editing, the flow is much more nightmarish.

Silent House's style also results in an exemplary, intense performance by Olsen (who was also great in Martha Marcy May Marlene). Her character runs the gamut from casual to confused to scared and outright terrified, without the comfort of building these emotions off-camera, between takes. Unfortunately the movie's story and themes range from muddled to obvious. The writing, at once all too familiar and too opaque, threatens to ruin the whole experience.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the unspoken, violent past surrounding the photographs and what might have happened in the house. Should Silent House have been clearer about these events, or is the mystery more effective this way?

  • Is the movie scary? What makes it a horror movie? What's scarier -- the stuff you see, or the stuff you don't?

  • Does Silent House's unique style make up for any problems with story or character? What does "style over substance" really mean? Is it possible for a good movie to have style but little substance?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 9, 2012
DVD release date:July 24, 2012
Cast:Adam Trese, Elizabeth Olsen, Eric Sheffer Stevens
Directors:Chris Kentis, Laura Lau
Studio:Open Road Films
Run time:88 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:disturbing violent content and terror

This review of Silent House was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written bymovieguy97 April 27, 2012

The Best

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 15 years old Written byADifferentFantastik December 19, 2013

The Viewer Beware

starring Elizabeth Olsen, this horror movie is in no way, a healthy family movie.with downright disturbing images and a continual evil presence, the only positive thing in the movie is the bravery shown by the woman's father. there is plenty of jump scenes and real, a lot of screaming. this movie would be plenty frightening for young viewers and the faint of heart. not to mention the crude and illegal objects insinuated at later on in the movie. these objects such as child pornography (or something worse) and some incestual references even make it all the more adults only. all in all, this is no kid's movie, and contains too many adult/illegal references for the immature audience.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byConor Coyle December 18, 2012


I thought it was excellent, though the camera can be shaky at times which can be quite annoying but that's not the problem! The scares don't appear often but make some jump when they happen. The cast are great and the twist was good. I won't say it because I would hate to spoil it on some but I can say it's a good one. So take a look at the trailer, some clips and maybe a few non-spoiler reviews.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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