“Silent House” has a quiet opening - The Explorer: Liven Up

“Silent House” has a quiet opening

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Chris Flora

Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 3:00 am

“Silent House” didn’t make much noise at the box office over the weekend, grossing only $7 million and rightfully receiving an “F” grade from CinemaScore surveys, becoming only the second movie of the year to receive a failing grade.

The remake follows the plotline of its 2010 predecessor “The Silent House,” and similarly advertises “real fear in real time,” but makes no mention of being “real disappointing.”

Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of the Olsen twins, stars as Sarah, a young woman returning to her summer home to help her father renovate and sell it. The rickety lake house has since been vacated and vandalized by locals, and provides the perfect horror-film setting. A lack of electricity and boarded up windows provide the pitch-black darkness, countered only by flashlights and lanterns as Sarah, her father John (Adam Trese), and Uncle Peter (Eric Stevens) begin work on the house.

After Peter leaves for the evening, Sarah hears a noise from upstairs, which she and her father investigate. When the two separate, Sarah finds herself alone in the old, three-story home- or so she thinks.

When an unknown perpetrator gives chase, Sarah tries escape, only to find herself locked and boarded in. Each escape is temporary, as she can only relocate throughout the house in an attempt to evade the seemingly calm, methodical moves of whoever is after her.

The film starts promisingly enough, providing a believable scenario with believable acting, as Olsen puts on a solid performance. The real time footage helps build tension, and indeed, there are a few heart-pounding moments. The first thirty minutes give the film hope, and will certainly have the viewer attempting to guess the identity of the perpetrator.

The film’s climax is also its biggest problem as it transforms a plain yet acceptable plotline of cat versus mouse into a much deeper, but far less interesting reveal. Even more damaging is the fact the observant viewer will pick up on various hints throughout the film leading to that point, further diffusing the possibility of a surprise ending.

Silent House is the perfect example of how an overly complicated, ill-prepared script can ruin what would otherwise have been a decent horror film.

Perhaps filmmakers are growing tired of the same old horror story, where the bad guy chases around the helpless female victim, but in this instance, they would have been justified, and better off doing just that. Once the twist is revealed, the film loses every advantage it had going for it.

Silent House should have been advertised as “15 minutes of tension building, 45 minutes of fear, and 28 minutes of ruining all of that.”

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