The Silent House represents what is to the best of my knowledge the first Uruguayan movie I have ever seen, how was it as a debut from the South American country? Put simply disappointing!
Wilson (Gustavo Alonso) and his daughter Laura (Florencia Colucci) are employed by a friend (Abel Tripaldi) to undertake some work at a remote house before he sells it. Soon after arriving the pair go to bed but are immediately disturbed by strange noises. On investigating Wilson is attacked beginning a frantic hour for Laura who is trapped in the dimly lit house. Shot supposedly in a single shot but like Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope, there are edits, some more obvious than others.
The concept of the unreliable narrator is a well known and a well used one, this movie takes it a stage further and that, in conjunction with the single take concept/gimmick is the problem. The single take implies a certain honesty, even near documentary realism, the movie is after all inspired by real events. As we discover that what we have seen isn’t exactly what has happened the problems quickly become evident. This is exacerbated by the way the point of view of the camera appears at times to move from documentary observer to the point of view of one character or another. This wouldn’t matter in any other movie but it is distracting within the single take idea. Put simply the concept detracts from not enhances the movie.
The final reveal isn’t all that shocking and has been seen many times before and has been handled better, most notably in the French thriller Switchblade Romance (aka High Tension, original title Haute tension). As for the concept, it is a good one, it just doesn’t work for this movie and is poorly executed here. The creeping around in the dark thing has been done so many times recently but is surprisingly effective here although not up to the standard of the Spanish horror [Rec]. The opening scene feels drawn out and is further hindered by clunky dialogue. This is followed a further contrivance of the plot required to maintain the single take concept. The real problem with the execution of the plot is the final reel, there comes a point just before the reveal where Laura’s character becomes more relaxed in her surroundings this kills any tension in an instant killing the movie with it and helping to telegraph the supposed twist.
All things considered it is a movie with some good ideas and inconsistent levels of quality in the execution, ultimately the concept and the story are fighting against each other to resulting in a film that nearly works.
Two Stars out of five ★★★★★
And for those who aren’t familiar with the laws of foreign language horror movies, the American remake has already been made and played at Sundance earlier this year to similarly mixed reviews, it bizarrely stars Elizabeth (sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley) Olsen.