What parents need to know
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.
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.
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?
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?