Silent House

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Silent House Movie Poster Image
Horror movie has more style (and blood) than story.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 16 and 18+-year-old Written byDeppgirl September 9, 2020

Don’t waste your time

I don’t know what I expected from this film but it definitely wasn’t what I got! Was hoping for true horror and while it can be tense and creepy at times, it wa... Continue reading
Adult Written byAndrea M. August 26, 2017

Lost back story?

The kinda hinted at back story was horrible and could have been done way better... slow like a turtle...
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 positi... Continue reading
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 of... Continue reading

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?

This movie's story and themes range from muddled to obvious. 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. The writing, at once all too familiar and too opaque, threatens to ruin the whole experience.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

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