“Who Can It Be Now?”
Grade: C+ (SKIP IT)
DREAM House. SAFE House. FULL House’s Olsen twins and their kid sister Elizabeth whose Silent House is a mixed bag of a horror film and Elizabeth Olsen’s second major effort on screen (following last year’s “Martha Marcy May Maylene”). There’s little doubt that Olsen’s star will continue to rise, but “Silent House” is hardly the film to pave the way: it’s a slow-burner that never quite ignites; it’s built on the hoariest of horror flick clichés – the haunted house – with an unspeakable crime at its center that’s scarier than any of the film’s few jumps and jolts.
As Sarah, Olsen is stranded inside a family vacation home already boarded-up and ready for sale. She’s flanked by her father (Adam Trese) and uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens) who bicker in a jovial, brotherly way as Sarah packs up her childhood belongings and carries a lantern from room to room. The creepiness of her Dad’s affect – is he looking out for his young daughter or looking down her low-cut shirt? – should tip any perspicacious viewer off to the film’s central trauma. Sarah appears on edge and when something goes bump in the night, her father assures her: “Honey, it’s an old house. They make noise.” But this is a silent house, remember, and its worst memories are kept hush-hush.
The most noteworthy aspect of “Silent House” is its cinematography, particularly the moody aerial of Sarah perched on a rock by the water at the film’s opening. Directed by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, “Silent House” purports to be shot in real-time and in virtually one continuous close-up shot of Olsen’s panicked pallor. (Here, it follows in the footsteps of the Uruguayan Spanish-language original, “La Casa Muda,” released in 2010). Perhaps Kurt Cobain screeched it best back in 1991: “With the lights out, it’s less dangerous/Here we are now, entertain us.” The lights are out in “Silent House,” and since its real horror can’t be fully known (nor shown), you’ll likely find yourself less than entertained.