When I first heard about The Silent House I was really intrigued. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love horror films, even the trashiest ones, but I have felt for a long time now that the genre is in danger of becoming stale, simply because people seem to want to stick to the same old ideas rather than try anything new – and this is partially why I support independent horror films so much, simply because they are the ones who are more likely to try something new. Which is why I was intrigued by The Silent House, as it is not only the first feature film made in Latin America (apparently) but it was also shot in one continuous take over a period of four days. Quite a feat! But does the film deliver anything of interest to horror fans?
Laura & her father Wilson head to a remote cottage where they are to spend the night before starting to clear & repair it for the owner (a friend of Wilson) as he intends to sell it.
After having a look around, and being warned by the owner not to go upstairs as it’s unsafe, the pair settle down in two armchairs for the night. Before long, Wilson is fast asleep, but Laura has trouble settling down – which gets worse when she hears a strange noise outside. And then the unmistakable noise of someone moving around above them.
Waking her father, he agrees to go and have a look while she waits downstairs for him to return. Only he doesn’t. Now, Laura has to try and escape the house before it’s terrible secrets are unearthed.
Right, let’s get the elephant out of the room first, shall we? What elephant you ask? That claim of “being shot in one continuous take”. While I cannot dispute this directly, there are a number of points in the film that the screen goes completely black for seconds at a time – more than enough time for a cut to have taken place. Does that disprove the claim? Well, no it doesn’t, and you have to admire the skill of the camera man to never get caught onscreen in one of the many mirrors littered around the house. But still, there is the element of doubt there that the claim may not be totally accurate, but it doesn’t lessen the impact of the film so it’s not something that should deter you from watching it, I just wish in some ways that the claim wasn’t trumpeted so loudly!
So with that out of the way, the film is very effective. For the most part its a single hander, with everything we see being from the point of view of Laura (played by Florencia Colucci) – we could almost be seeing it through her eyes and it works very well. The house is dark, and along with Laura all we can see of the environment is from whatever lightsource Laura is using, which adds to the overall feeling of the film. And Colucci is very effective at playing the fear her character is under.
Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any problems. For one, why the hell doesn’t Laura do a runner as soon as she can? Instead she stumbles around in the dark as she is stalked by the unseen presence in the house, which just didn’t make any sense to me. I know that if she had done that then the film would have been over a lot quicker, which wouldn’t be a good thing, but from a character point of view it didn’t make sense.
And secondly, I hated the final reveal – mainly because it’s something that has been done to death in horror films now, and I really dislike guessing the outcome of a film early on – even when you start thinking you’re wrong!
That being said, Director Gustavo Hernández did a great job with the atmosphere & staging of the film, and as I said it’s a supreme effort in (if they are to be believed) trying something new, with the films supposed “no cuts”, and keeping the camera out of view throughout is very well done. There are some moments where you have to wonder if the film might have benefited from having a cut or two, or some extra layers in the story (which is fairly simple when you get right down to it), but it does deliver tension and hold the interest of the viewer throughout.
As this is the Blu-Ray version, it has to be said that the picture is very crisp, with the handheld high-definition digital single-lens reflex camera used to film the action producing great detail & realistic lighting, even in the very dark interior of the house, and no real bleeding of colour or artefacts are present onscreen. Likewise, the black levels in the dark scenes are reproduced with high definition within the shadows.
This is by no means a bad film, but I have to wonder if it would have gotten as much attention and interest if it wasn’t for the marketing ploy of it having been filmed in without any cuts, but let’s not let that take away from what is a fairly well executed horror that delivers just enough tension to live up to at least some of the hype around it.
The Silent House, while not the best horror film you’ll ever see, is well worth a watch.