Film: The Silent House
UK Release date: 1st August 2011
Running time: 86 mins
Director: Gustavo Hernandez
Starring: Florencia Colucci, Abel Tripaldi, Gustavo Alonso, Maria Salazar
Despite an editor being credited, many still believe The Silent House (La Casa Muda) was filmed in one continuous, relentless shot and inspired by true events. Whether or not either of these myths is true, first-time director Gustavo Hernandez’s movie has already impressed Hollywood with a remake soon to be released starring Elizabeth Olsen, younger sister of the Olsen twins. Therefore, it already stands to reason that you’re better off watching the original, even if it’s frightfully dire. For peace of mind, however, is it actually any good?
Laura and her father have promised to clean an old friend's property in order for it to be sold. Travelling deep into the hostile, unforgiving landscape of rural Uruguay, they are to spend the night in an isolated, run down cottage in order to get an early start on it the next morning.
With no civilization for hundreds of miles, no electricity or modern conveniences within the property and darkness long since descended, Laura forces her father to investigate a strange noise from the floor above.
When he doesn't return after what sounds like a sinister scuffle, Laura has nothing but fear to console her. She knows she’s not alone and her father is either in trouble, or dead. Fearing something is waiting in the shadows, she arms herself and searches for answers…
He said: Gustavo Hernandez is clearly a man who storyboards every shot. This stands to reason if you want to fool the audience into thinking your movie was shot in one singular take – planning is essential. And although the results may be too airtight for some tastes, too constructed, too precise, it fits his slow-build storytelling like a glove - even if the first fifteen minutes are as dull as dishwater.
She said: Everybody knows you shouldn’t investigate strange noises, but we wouldn’t have a very interesting story if they didn’t, so Wilson goes to see what’s going on while Laura remains downstairs, alone, waiting for her father’s return. It’s a simple premise then, one that focuses on Laura’s attempts to stay alive, and one that we’ve witnessed countless times before.
He said: Hernandez certainly knows the tricks of the trade – his camera movement slow and tentative, especially when one of horror’s favourite weapons, the mirror, is ominously sitting in shot. Brilliantly composed, the audience is treated to some frightening foreplay, misdirecting us and making the film all the more chilling for it.
She said: The Silent House won’t blow you away with its uninspired approach to storytelling and characterisation; Gustavo Hernández has delivered a straightforward horror film that lacks both coherence and originality. The twists that come are interesting, but even on first viewing they don’t add up.
He said: The Silent House turns out to be a primarily petrifying experience. With action limited mainly to the house, we see what Laura sees, and then, thanks to some quirky flourishes, we see her again from another dizzying angle, or we see more, what she doesn’t see, what we don’t want to see, even if there’s nothing there at all. Then there’s the excellent use of sound. Distant thumps and clatters, footsteps, an anxious gasp for breath – it’s all here – and although most reek of standard horror clichés, Hernandez has already offered enough to warrant the stay of you and your fraught failings to accept it’s only a movie.
She said: I’m all for taking giant leaps of faith when it comes to shocking denouements, but the final reveal lacks true conviction. Perhaps I missed something, but Gustavo Hernández seems more interested in hoodwinking the audience than making a film of genuine substance. Having said that, if you can overlook the lack of closure, The Silent House more than compensates with genuine thrills and spills.
He said: It’s a shame, then, that Laura (a far from savvy Florencia Colucci) reenters the house after finally finding a way out. Although the twist-ending justifies her decision to do so, and also allows Hernandez to scare the life out of his audience with one of the most truly terrifying scenes in recent memory (the Polaroid camera moment is downright spine-chilling), it stretches the credibility it had mastered and murders all the cliched goodness that came before it.
She said: The Silent House kept me on tenterhooks throughout, and Hernández’ timing is impeccable; keeping things moving with well timed shocks and effortless scares. Florencia Colucci impresses in the lead role, and even with little dialogue to speak of, there’s no denying you’ll feel her every heartbeat.
He said: Some movies don’t need to follow the Shyamalan methods of storytelling, relying on final acts to neatly resolve every question raised. The Silent House was working perfectly well by echoing Shyamalan’s slow-paced direction, but similar to aliens that don’t like water, or death by daffodils, the ridiculous conclusion dished up here makes little sense and turns the film not on its head, but on its backside.
She said: The Silent House starts slow, but a gentle drip feed of dread should keep your cushion occupied. It’s not perfect, but any qualms over inconsistencies are soon forgotten as the exemplary execution and efficient blend of scares kick in. Gustavo Hernández is a name to keep an eye on then, and The Silent House emerges as a horror movie worth shouting about.
He said: Worth watching for one hair-raising scene alone, The Silent House is anything but. With its dark, brooding atmosphere and an uneasy aura that lingers in every corner of its frame, it will leave you breathless, right up until its hugely disappointing climax - foolishly daring to question all the tense yet clichéd action that came before it.