What could be worse than being sisters with the Olsen Twins? Finding yourself stuck in a house while being chased by a malicious stranger intent on hurting you. In the new psychological thriller, Silent House, starring Elizabeth Olsen, a young girl finds herself trapped in her worst nightmare as she does her best to fend off her unknown tormentors.
Silent House, directed by Chris Kentis, is shot in one single 88 minute take, focusing on Sarah (Olsen) as she arrives at her family’s lakeside house. Sarah, along with her father and uncle Peter, have come to the house to prepare it to be sold. The setting is dark and creepy from the start; the windows are all boarded up, the electricity is out, and the doors have to be unlocked with a key. Not to mention, there’s an underlying creepiness going on between Sarah and her uncle Peter as well as the father. Awkward.
So, uncle Peter and Sarah’s dad, John, get into an argument and Peter leaves the house in a huff, leaving just the two alone in darkness. As the young girl explores the home, she hears a knock on the door and finds a girl whom she doesn’t remember. The exchange is awkward and unnatural as the girl, Sophia, hugs Sarah and tells her how happy she is to see her back–only Sarah has no idea who the girl is. Right away, the audience gets a sense that something weird is going on and that there’s clearly something up with the overly enthusiastic neighbor.
Sarah brushes off the encounter and goes back into her house to get back to business. While she’s lighting candles and looking around, she hears loud noises come from above her. When she runs into her father, she asks him to explore the area because she’s sure that there’s a person lurking around upstairs. When the pair investigate the strange occurrence they learn that there’s nothing there and John leaves Sarah in her room to pack.
While Sarah is packing, she hears a loud thump, as if someone has fallen, and when she calls out to her father, he doesn’t respond. Frightened, Sarah makes her way out into the hall in search of her father and in search of what’s going on. Then, the young girl encounters a stranger and all hell breaks loose as she realizes that she and her father are not alone in the humble abode.
The rest of the film follows Sarah as she tries to escape and as her mind seems to unravel around the chaos that’s happening before her eyes. The way that the film is shot is almost similar to a found footage horror as we go through the horror exactly as Sarah would. The audience never gets a clear look at the girl’s attackers and we never really get a clear look at anything because when Sarah is confronted by something frightening, the camera shakes and moves like crazy. Annoying.
I understand that the director was trying to create a tense atmosphere by not allowing us to see much and to make us anxious for what was to come next, and they did succeed in that; however, sometimes the shaking was driving me crazy, especially when she was running or toward the end of the movie when she was “attacked” in the upstairs room.
The performance from Olsen was praiseworthy and you can tell that she’s definitely going to have a long career ahead of her. Her emotions and reactions seemed legitimately real and it made the film more terrifying. The performances by the father and uncle….uh, not so much. I found myself questioning whether or not the guys were just super creepy or if they just couldn’t act very well and I decided that it was both. Their scenes ruined the movie for me and took me out of the film itself because they seemed like they were acting. Not cool dudes.
As the movie progresses, you can figure out that something super strange is going on between the three characters and if you paid attention enough to specific scenes–the Polaroid pictures they hid from her, the bed in the basement, the appearance of a little girl–you can pretty much figure out the big reveal half-way through the movie. It turns out–SPOILER–Sarah was molested by her daddy and uncle when she was a little girl and all of the things that she’s seeing are repressed memories from when she was younger. Hmm…really?
It turns out, the bad guys that were running through the house hurting people were actually Sarah getting revenge on the sick bastards for the things that they did to her when she was younger. Okay, so can you please explain to me how a small girl was able to carry two grown men around so easily?
That’s right, everything that was happening to Sarah wasn’t real; it was all in her mind. I feel like I’ve seen this scenario before. Anyway…it turns out that Sophia, the creepy girl that Sarah didn’t recognize, was actually a part of Sarah’s mind and she was trying to remind herself of the evilness that happened to her as a child.
In the end, Sarah fights between her repressed self and her present self, and frees her father from his captivity. Uh, bad idea honey–the guy raped you your whole life and you just tried to kill him. You really think he’s just going to hug you and everything’s going to be all fine and dandy? Not so much.
Sarah’s dad starts beating her for what she’s done and uncle Peter begs him to just stop and let her go. Aw how sweet. The uncle helped his bro diddle his daughter all their lives and suddenly has a change of heart. Kodak moment. While John is distracted by Peter, Sarah gets her hand on a hammer and makes contact with daddy’s skull. That’s what you get mufucka.
I really don’t know how to feel about this movie because it wasn’t completely bad but I didn’t think it was completely good either. The highlights of the film were definitely the beginning; the atmosphere was intense and frightening to the point where you wanted to hold your breath to keep from missing the next scenes. Olsen was the best thing about the film because her acting was so believable and real, making you feel for her and want her to get the hell out of danger.
But the big reveal was kind of mediocre, in my opinion. I feel like it’s been done before and I feel like ever since the shocking twist ending of The Sixth Sense, filmmakers have been trying to top it, which is what seemed like Silent House was trying to do.
In my opinion, the filmmakers gave away too much too soon. If you were watching this movie and couldn’t figure out that something weird was going on between Sarah and the two guys, then you are insanely stupid. Once it is fully realized half-way through the movie, there’s really not much of a point in watching it because you can figure that what was happening wasn’t real as well.
This review was tough for me to write because I’m still on the fence about how I feel about the movie. I haven’t seen the original so I don’t know how it compares. I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it. I think that if you absolutely have to see this movie then go see it in theaters. Otherwise, if you could care less, wait for it to come out on DVD because it’s not worth going to the theater for.