HORROR goes immersive next week when fright-fest Silent House comes to cinemas.
Filmed in real-time with no cuts, the chilling tale follows twenty-something Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) as she helps her father and uncle repair their old, run-down, isolated family holiday home nestled deep in the middle of nowhere.
With the derelict property suffering from boarded-up windows and no electricity, progress goes slow.
But after Sarah starts hearing noises as if someone else is in the supposedly abandoned house, she soon finds herself trapped, hunted and desperate to escape.
Can she evade the mysterious presence, or will she fall victim to it?
While sounding initially like gimmick over ingenuity, this remake of Latin American 2010 original La Casa Muda is certainly an impressive technical achievement.
‘Real-time’ movies may not be new, but offerings which refuse to cut away are few and far between; often feeling more like a filmed play rather than an absorbing cinematic experience (Hitchcock’s Rope a prime example).
With its docu-style camerawork providing the opportunity for uninterrupted scares, and the placing of the audience as a reluctant companion throughout Elizabeth’s ordeal, the technique is certainly filled with potential.
Unfortunately, the novel nature of shooting fails to paper over the fact that Silent House is essentially a generic, run of the mill horror.
Following a painfully blatant affirming of classic horror conventions all delivered in rapid succession (house is boarded up like a prison because of vandals, no phone signal to call for help, etc), the first half quickly descends into familiar (but enjoyable) stalk-and-slash territory complete with expected tight close-ups on our scared protagonist.
Directing duo Chris Kentis and Laura Lau (who previously brought low-budget Open Water to the big screen) draw on the classic assortment of boo-scares, bumps in the night, and ‘what was that’ moments to marry a predictable plot with the ‘never look away’ format.
But a tone-shifting third act fails to build on the momentum, instead derailing the carefully established slow-building tension before offering a divisive twist which will either satisfy or destroy the audience’s patience for being so immersed while dragged along for the (thrill) ride.
Keeping things credible is rising star Elizabeth Olsen who impresses from the outset, carrying the film (literally) on her shoulders as she rarely leaves the frame throughout the 85 minute runtime.
But despite her impressive turn (which is worth the price of an admission ticket alone), in more confident hands and with a tighter script Silent House could have taken up residence as a true horror classic.
6/10 - Look who’s stalking.
Silent House will be released on May 4.