Friday Night Thriller Theater
Every Friday, I'll be recommending a scary movie to watch that's available to stream from NetFlix!
Tonight, it's the 2012 thriller, Silent House!
Silent House was directed by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, the duo who made Open Water, and stars Elizabeth Olsen as Sarah.
The setup is simple enough, Sarah has accompanied her father and uncle to the family's shared lake house where she spent summers as a child. The three of them have come to the house in order to clean it and make repairs. The family plans to put the house up for sale, but it is in pretty bad shape, with black mold growing in the walls from the upper floors, possibly, down to the basement. The electricity isn't functioning, either, so the trio have to use flashlights, electric lanterns, and oil lamps to light their work. Due to concerns with frequent past break-ins and possible squatters when the house has been left unoccupied, its doors are locked, its windows boarded shut from the inside out.
The relationship dynamics in the film are of note. Although college age, Sarah doesn't seem to have much going on in life. She's not in school, and her only current work comes in the form of helping out at the lake house, from which she takes frequent breaks. Sarah's father can be a bit of an abrasive, demanding jerk and has a somewhat contentious relationship with his brother. But he appears to be close, if maybe a little short, with Sarah. He even mentions checking her Facebook page while at an internet cafe in town.
The creepiness begins after Sarah's uncle leaves to pick up supplies. While cleaning inside the dark and locked house, Sarah hears noises coming from the upper floors. Thudding that could be footsteps.
Are Sarah and her father alone?
Silent House is based on the 2011 Uraguayan film, La Casa Muda (directed by Gustavo Hernandez), and sports a unique story-telling device. Like Alfred Hitchcock's Rope, Silent House is shot in one, unbroken, real-time, 88 minute take.
Kentis and Lau have taken great care in the way they shot and lit the film. All filmmakers do, obviously, but in Silent House, often, what is happening in the dark, the background, or just out of view is more important than what is occurring on screen.
Elizabeth Olsen is terrific as Sarah. She is the focus of the movie, and Olsen brings a young adult sexuality and childlike vulnerability to the character. Kentis and Lau keep the camera tight on Olsen for much of the film, creating a tensely oppressive, claustrophobic atmosphere. This makes Sarah seem very much like a scared little girl, all alone in the dark.
Silent House isn't just a home invasion movie, though. It contains elements of the uncanny. Not everything is at it seems in this dark and locked house, which serves as both character and metaphor in the film. It is a terrifying physical and emotional prison for Sarah and proves that houses can be haunted, not just by ghosts, but the past, as well.
Watch the trailer below:
Check out Silent House tonight on NetFlix!