I love a good horror flick. Always have. The problem with the genre is that it is really hard to come up with something new. It’s all been done before. The only chance a horror director has these days is to come with a gimmick that allows them to put a new twist in their tale and keep the audience on their toes for the duration of the film.
I was therefore interested in the concept that “Silent House” had been shot in a single take. The idea of making a movie in one long continuous shot has been around for a while. In fact, Elliot Grove of Raindance lectures about it in his Lo to No Budget film making course. In my knowledge, it’s never actually been done successfully so to try it in a horror movie seemed like a risky move to me.
To be honest, 20 minutes in and I was just about ready to switch off. Nothing had happened. We’ve met the main characters, we’ve set the scene and we’ve had a few conversations. Just as I’m reaching for the remote and composing an unfavourable review in my head, as in all good horror movies, there’s a thump and it all kicks off. Noises in the dark, bodies falling out of cupboard and hands grabbing at you in the dark. All the good things that happen in scary films. Inevitably, the lead character decides that it might be a good idea to head down to the dark and dingy basement, after all, the most remote, darkest part of the house is where I would go if I was being chased by some psychotic, ghostly apparition, Jason type Freddy thing.
I would put money on this having been shot digitally with something along the lines of the Canon 5D camera. The pictures are beautiful until the camera has to run, or until it gets a little too dark, then you see the limitations of the format and unfortunately, this can become distracting and draw you out of the moment, something you really don’t want to be happening in a horror movie. Something kept me watching and I’m glad I did.
It’s shot very much like a short film. Gimmicks and stylised shots. After all, with a single camera and a single lens doing one long continuous shot is not easy and severely limits the directors options. Bits of it are beautifully shot, others just don’t quite work. Where the film excels however is in it’s shock value. Few films have succeeded in this in recent times. The most notable example is “The Blair Witch Project.” I would put “Silent House” firmly in the same camp as that film. It’s a film you’ll really enjoy watching once but probably only once. You won’t go back to it again and again, however, first time round, the shocks keep coming, the suspense keeps building and the music gets creepier by the minute. I won’t give away the ending, like most good horror’s you can have a damn good guess at how it’s all going to finish up. I would however recommend that you give this one a shot if you’re a fan of the genre. If for no other reason than they actually manage to pull off their main objective of shooting the whole thing in one go. No mean feat and one certainly worth acknowledging.
Directed by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, the same team behind “Open Water”, the film stars Elisabeth Olsen alongside Adam Trese and Eric Sheffer Stevens. A remake of Uruguayan film “La Casa Muda”, which is allegedly based on actual incidents, the plot finally unfolds and all becomes clear in the end.
Silent House is out on DVD from 17th September 2012